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Court: Crash cleanup is county’s expense

BUFFALO — Erie County has lost its bid to recover the money it spent in the aftermath of the 2009 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo.

A federal appeals court last week upheld a ruling clearing flight operator Colgan Air, its parent company, Pinnacle Airlines, and Continental Airlines of responsibility for the cost of the emergency response and cleanup. The reason: a provision of New York law that says public money spent doing government work is not recoverable.

Flight 3407 crashed into a house in suburban Clarence on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport in February 2009. All 49 people on board and a man in the house were killed.

Erie County argued the airlines should pay its $800,000 tab because pilot error caused the crash.