(Updates with court filing in second paragraph.)
Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. must pay $17.8 million to relatives of a 36-year-old woman who died with her mother and two daughters when a Marine Corps fighter-jet crashed into their San Diego home, less than a third of what the family had sought.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller in San Diego today awarded the damages to Don Yoon, husband of Youngmi Lee Yoon and the father of the children, who were 7 weeks old and 15 months old. Plaintiffs also included the husband and surviving children of her mother, Seokim Kim-Lee, 59, who was visiting from Korea.
The U.S. admitted sole liability due to the negligence of military personnel for the Dec. 8, 2008, crash of a F/A 18D Hornet fighter that incinerated the house, according to the judge’s ruling. The damages award came after a three-day non- jury trial where the family members sought as much as $56 million and the government argued for unspecified “fair and reasonable compensation.”
“Ms. Kim-Lee was a remarkable woman, imbued with a love of life, family and traditional South Korean values,” Miller wrote in the decision. “The care, comfort, companionship, guidance, and love provided by Ms. Kim-Lee to her family are virtually immeasurable.”
The pilot of the jet, a member of the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 known as the “Sharpshooters,” ejected moments before the crash. He had been working toward his qualifications for takeoff and landing from an aircraft carrier at the time.
Representatives of the Justice Department’s civil division, which represented the U.S. in the case, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on the ruling.
The case is Don Yoon v. U.S., 10-01578, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).
--Editors: David E. Rovella, Michael Hytha
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