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A federal appeals court Monday rejected Erie County’s argument that the operators of the plane that crashed in Clarence in 2009, killing 50 people, should pay for the county’s cleanup costs in the wake of the accident.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that rejected the county’s claim that Colgan Air – which operated Continental Connection Flight 3407 – is liable for cleanup of the crash site. The county’s lawsuit contended that Colgan’s parent, Pinnacle Airlines, was also liable, as was Continental.

U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny ruled last March, though, that New York State law mandates that such costs are not recoverable in the wake of such disasters, and the three-judge appellate panel unanimously agreed.

“We have examined all of the County’s arguments on appeal and find them to be without merit,” the judges wrote.

Erie County spent nearly $800,000 on its emergency response and cleanup efforts after the crash, and in its appeal, the county said it “has sustained unnecessary and unprecedented property and financial damage as a direct and proximate result of the defendants’ wanton, reckless, negligent, and willful conduct.”

Federal investigators blamed the crash on pilot error, which, they said, could be partly tied to insufficient training.