The families of Flight 3407 have waited nearly five years for their day in court.
Now they’ll have to wait months longer.
The judge in the case, convinced that Pinnacle and Continental airlines need more time to prepare, has moved the trial from March to May.
And he did it over the objections of lawyers who insist that the victims’ families have waited long enough.
“It’s been five years,” said Robert A. Clifford, who represents several families. “Our clients have waited since February of ’09.”
In ordering the delay. Chief U.S. District William M. Skretny acknowledged the impact on the families and the community.
“I know how long it’s been,” he said. “They’re matters I never lose sight of.”
He also issued a warning of sorts to Pinnacle and Continental, the two defendants in the wrongful-death lawsuits.
“This is it,” he told their attorneys.
The suits stem from the Continental Connection flight that crashed in Clarence Center, killing 50 people, a tragedy that federal investigators blamed on pilot error.
The victims’ families have tried to make the case that Pinnacle’s pilots were not well-trained and that the airline required pilots to fly despite illness and fatigue.
“Frankly, it’s been a long time,” Terrence M. Connors, a lawyer for several of the families, said Wednesday.
“This is a matter of great importance to our clients. And it’s a matter of great importance to the community.”
Pinnacle’s lawyer agreed.
“It’s an important trial and all the more reason to do it right,” said David J. Harrington, a lawyer for the airline.
The plane that crashed in Clarence was owned and operated by Colgan Air, which was part of Pinnacle, and flew under the Continental Connection banner.
Most of the original Flight 3407 suits have been settled, but there are about seven still pending in federal court and an additional five in state court.