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US to Pay $17.8M for Jet Crash that Killed 4

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on December 30, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal judge has awarded $17.8 million to the family members of four persons who were killed in a December 2008 Marine jet crash. The plane crashed into Don Yoon's San Diego home, killing his wife, mother-in-law and two daughters instantly.

The military admitted it was at fault -- the plane was manned by a student pilot who panicked when the engine failed. Still, the two sides opted for a nonjury trial.

Yoon, his father-in-law and his wife's siblings wanted $56 million. The government wanted to pay significantly less.

The Marine jet crash trial thus centered on losses -- how much did the family lose financially and how much should it receive for emotional distress.

The Justice Department placed economic damages at $1 million, according to the Associated Press. But it questioned whether the family members depended on one another as much as they said.

The relationship between family members factors heavily into an emotional distress award. A jury, or in this case a judge, is trying to quantify emotional pain, loss of companionship and support.

Family members who rarely communicate have a lesser claim to consortium and support. If the deceased wife's siblings never spoke to their mother, they did not lose her comfort or care.

It seems as though the government's argument partially worked. Don Yoon was awarded $10 million for the economic and emotional losses caused by the Marine jet crash. His father-in-law was awarded $4 million, reports the Associated Press. And his wife's three siblings will split another $4 million.

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