A survivor of a 1987 Continental Airlines crash has been awarded slightly more than $800,000 in damages, about half what Continental officials say she was offered in an out-of-court settlement.
A U.S. District Court jury deliberated three days before awarding $779,000 to Karen Johnson of Boise, Idaho, plus $21,700 for her husband, Bob Cook. The jury reached the verdict Tuesday.The couple was denied punitive damages.
Johnson suffered a damaged heart muscle and permanent double vision from nerve damage in the Nov. 15, 1987, crash of Continental Flight 1713 at Denver's Stapleton International Airport. Twenty-eight people died and 54 were injured in the crash.
Continental attorney Bob Harris said the $800,000 award was appropriate and said Continental had approached the couple before the trial with a $1.6 million settlement proposal that was rejected.
Johnson said she was hopeful that her lawsuit would prompt Continental to learn from its mistakes. "I hope it will cause reforms at Continental and all other airlines that cut corners," she said.
The verdict followed nearly three weeks of testimony before U.S. District Judge Sherman Finesilver.
The panel also found negligence on the part of the Federal Aviation Administration because of the conduct of flight controllers who allowed the Continental DC-9 to sit on a runway in a snowstorm more than 20 minutes after undergoing de-icing.
The plane was bound for Boise when it crashed.