Hinesville trial lawyers James N. and Joel Osteen’s Osteen & Osteen firm has concluded its first mass wrongful death case.
They say the settlement bans them from giving details, but the case was sparked by the crash of a passenger airplane two years ago that was supposed to fly from Lexington, Ky., to Atlanta. The Osteens were only part of the overall case, which spanned two years and involved 50 individual settlements. It came to an end last month.
The settlement involved the Delta Connection Flight 5191 (also known as the Comair Flight 191) that crashed on Aug. 27, 2006, as it tried to take off from Bluegrass Airport, killing 49 people, all the passengers and two of the three crewmembers, including the pilot. The sole survivor was the co-pilot, who suffered severe injuries.
James Osteen said, as part of the settlement, he is not allowed to disclose the specific terms. However, he said he and his brother are satisfied with the outcome.
“We were pleased with the settlement. My client was happy,” James Osteen said.
The airplane crashed as it attempted to take off from a runway that was 3,500 feet long, instead of the scheduled runway, which was 7,000 feet long. The air traffic controller failed to see the plane going down the wrong runway because he had turned his back to attend to administrative work, according to the Osteens.
The firm’s first complaint was filed against the Federal Aviation Association and involved the air traffic controller. According to James Osteen, it’s FAA policy to have two workers in a tower at all times. Only one was present the morning of the crash.
The second complaint, filed against Comair, pertained to what James Osteen called pilot error, which includes, among others, a violation of a cockpit rule that prohibits pilots from talking until they are in flight.
Although the official tapes and transcripts will not be released, James Osteen said there was a lot of talking between the two men, and that the distracted crew members.
Despite the satisfactory outcome of the case, James Osteen said it’s always emotional when representing families who have lost loved ones.
“You wouldn’t be human if these types of things didn’t make you feel something,” he said.
He credits a lot of the case’s success to the recreation animation, which provides an accurate visual representation of the crash, produced by SCAD graduate Robert Jolley, who works for the firm. James Osteen said other key people who worked on the case include Richmond Hill trial lawyer Billy Tomlinson and motion and brief strategic specialist Kelly Davis.