LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A judge on Thursday ruled Blue Grass
Airport can't be sued for last summer's deadly Comair plane crash,
dealing a major blow to the airline's efforts to divide blame and
potentially millions of dollars in damages.
After nearly two hours of arguments in Fayette County Circuit
Court, Judge James Ishmael declared the airport couldn't be held
legally responsible because it enjoys "sovereign immunity" as a
component of the merged Lexington-Fayette County government.
Kentucky's Constitution provides that while cities can be sued,
counties can't without a waiver from the General Assembly, and that
step hasn't been taken in the Comair case.
Comair is the primary defendant in numerous liability lawsuits
filed on behalf of the 49 crash victims. However, the airline
countersued the airport arguing they are also partially to blame
because of poor runway signs and markings that might have
contributed to the flight trying to depart from a too-short runway.
Still pending is Comair's case against the airport's control
tower, run by the Federal Aviation Administration. That case could
be even tougher because of the difficulty in suing the federal
On Thursday, Comair's attorney Ed Stopher tried to make the case
that despite its ties to the county, Blue Grass Airport operates
independently and gets virtually no government money beyond a
$200,000 grant. The airport also purchased a $150 million insurance
policy, he pointed out, arguing that was an unwise investment for
an entity that truly believed it couldn't be sued.