Families Want $56 Million for Jet Crash - NBC 7 San Diego

Families Want $56 Million for Jet Crash

Government lawyers urge the judge to be "fair and reasonable."



    Families Want $56 Million for Jet Crash
    Young Mi Yoon, 36, Grace, 15 months, Rachel, 2 months and Suk Im Kim, 60, died on December 8, 2008 after one of the engines on a FA-18-D Hornet died as a student Marine pilot headed to MCAS Miramar.

    Lawyers for two families whose relatives were killed when a military jet crashed into a University City neighborhood in 2008 say those lives are worth more than $50 million.

    Four people were killed when the FA-18 D Hornet jet crashed into a home, on its way to MCAS Miramar. The home burst into flames.

    The impact immediately killed Young Mi Yoon, 36, her two young daughters, Grace and Rachel, and her mother, Suk Im Kim, 60, who was visiting from Korea to help care for the children.

    Young Mi's husband, Don Yoon, was at work that day and lost his entire family.

    The government has admitted liability, but the two sides could not agree on how much money Don Yoon and Young Mi's family should get for their loss. So a federal court judge heard the evidence in an emotionally grueling two-day trial, which included tearful testimony from the families.

    In closing arguments Wednesday morning, the families' attorney said Don Yoon should get a total of $27 million in emotional damages for the loss of his wife and two children.  That figure breaks down to $2 million in economic loss from his wife's lost future work as a nurse and her lost value as a wife, and $25 million in emotional or "compensatory" damages.

    Young Mi's father, Mr. Lee, should get $20.2 million, his lawyers argued. That figure includes $230,000 in economic loss from his wife's death, and $20 million in emotional damages.

    The lawyers also asked Judge Jeffrey Miller to give Young Mi's three siblings $2.5 million each in emotional damages.

    Attorney Brian Panish criticized the government for its callousness in this case, telling Judge Miller, "there has been no evidence of repentance" by any government agency.

    Don Yoon was in the courtroom for this morning's closing arguments. He sobbed at several points in the presentation, while he watched videos of his family that were used by his lawyers to show the family's love and close emotional bonds.

    The families' attorney also told the judge that if a U.S. Senator's family had been in that house, the government would have settled the damages issue without a trial.

    The attorney, Brian Panish, also claimed the government is trying to take advantage of the family's Korean descent by not offering them a fair settlement for their tremendous loss.

    In their closing argument, government lawyers did not give the judge a counter figure of what they thought would be a fair amount for emotional damages. Instead, U.S. Justice Department attorney Bruce Ross urged Judge Miller to be "fair and reasonable, without being excess or punitive" in his award to the family.