After over five years, the first case to go to trial over the 2009 Colgan Air crash in Buffalo, NY has finally begun in New York State Supreme Court. The lawsuit was brought by Karen Wielinski and her daughter Jill Hohl, the surviving family members of Douglas Wielinski, and sought damages of an unspecified amount from Continental Airlines, Colgan Air, and Colgan’s parent company Pinnacle Airlines Corporation.


The Wielinski family home in Clarence Center, NY was hit by Colgan Air Flight 3407 in February 2009. Forty-nine onboard the aircraft died, as well as one on the ground—Douglas Wielinski. The Wielinskis were at home during the crash, and while Karen and Jill (Hohl) managed to escape the house, Douglas remained inside the home while the wreckage burned.


In this case, which began on September 18, jurors will determine how the Wielinski family will be compensated based on their determination of what actually killed Douglas Wielinski—the impact or the ensuing flames—and what level of trauma Karen Wielinski and Jill Hohl faced following the crash.


The Wielinski’s attorney, Anne Beltz Rimmler, claims that evidence supports that Douglas Wielinski survived the impact along with his wife and daughter, but was trapped inside the wreckage of their home and the aircraft. Colgan’s attorneys testified that Mr. Wielinski was killed on impact, but acknowledged that the accident was the result of pilot error.


Many other lawsuits were filed after the crash by the surviving members of the passengers’ families, but each case was settled out of court. The Wielinskis were unable to reach a settlement, and much tension has risen as the family and airlines battle over the value of what was lost in the crash, including Douglas Wielinski’s life.


The airplane crash attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten extend their condolences to both Karen Wielinski and Jill Hohl as they move forward with the trial.

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