Judge awards family $17.8 million in damages for University City Marine fighter jet crash


City News Service

Family members of four people killed when a Marine fighter jet crashed into their University City home three years ago will get $17.8 million in damages for their deaths, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Killed in the Dec. 8, 2008, crash were 36-year-old Youngmi Lee Yoon; her daughters, Grace Yoon, 15 months old; and Rachel Yoon, 7 weeks old; and Seokim Kim-Lee, Youngmi’s 59-year-old mother.

The crash was blamed on a mechanical failure in the F/A-18D Hornet, as well as poor decisions by the pilot and personnel on the ground.

In a 16-page decision, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller said Youngmi

Lee Yoon’s husband, Don Yoon, should be awarded more than $9 million for lost wages, non-economic damages and loss of household services.

Kim-Lee’s husband, Sanghyun Lee, was awarded nearly $4 million in

economic and non-economic damages.

Three adult children of Kim-Lee were awarded $1.5 million each.

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Brian Panish, told reporters

outside federal court today that the verdict comes just over seven years from when Don Yoon married Youngmi Lee Yoon, on Christmas Day 2004.

Mr. Yoon says his family is relieved that this part of the process is

over,’’ Panish said.

In a statement, Yoon said no sum of money will ever make up for the

loss of our loved ones.`I still harbor no ill will toward the United States

Marine Corps and the pilot who did all he could to prevent this tragedy.’ ‘'

But the statement issued on behalf of the victims’ family members said

misguided attempts by the military to save money and cut corners cost their loved ones their lives.

During the civil trial, Panish said his clients were entitled to $56

million in damages.

U.S. Justice Department attorney Bruce Ross told the judge that the

family was entitled to just and reasonable’’ damages.