Airtran Liable in Pilot’s Death, Court Rules

     (CN) – Airtran Airways is liable to the family of a Kentucky pilot killed in a plane crash on his way to work, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled.

     Sarah Fortney filed for workers’ compensation benefits after her husband, Clarence, crashed on a flight from his home in Lexington, Ky., to Airtran’s base in Atlanta.
     Fortney was not alone in this practice, as 70 percent of Airtran’s pilots lived outside of Georgia in 2006 when the accident occurred. Airtran had an agreement with other airlines whereby pilots could commute through the air for free or a reduced rate.
     An administrative law judge ruled that the accident was not work-related, but the justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the ruling.
     “The … finding that the arrangement enabled Fortney to live where he chose compelled legal conclusions that it was an inducement to Fortney to accept the employment and that it benefited Airtran by accomplishing its purpose,” the justices wrote.
     “The arrangement brought within the course of Fortney’s employment travel by air between Lexington and Atlanta when going to or coming home from work. His death was work-related because he was making such a trip when it occurred,” they added.

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