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Families awarded $17.8 million in military jet crash

Fred Greaves / Reuters file

Firefighters battled flames after a military jet crashed into homes in the University City neighborhood of San Diego on Dec. 8, 2008.

SAN DIEGO — Two families whose relatives were killed when a military jet crashed into a University City neighborhood in 2008 have been awarded almost $18 million for their loss. The amount is about one-third of the $56 million that the lawyers had hoped to recover for the family.

Young Mi Yoon, 36, her daughters Grace, 15 months, and Rachel, 2 months, and her mother, Suk Im Kim, 60, were killed Dec. 8, 2008, after one of the engines on an FA-18-D Hornet died as a student Marine pilot headed to MCAS Miramar.

On Wednesday, a judge ruled that Young Mi Yoon's husband, Don Yoon, should receive $9.6 million in compensation for the loss of his family. Sanhyum Lee, Suk Im Kim's husband, was awarded $3.7 million. Young Mi Yoon's three siblings were awarded $1.5 million.

Read the original story at NBC San Diego

The jet destroyed two homes, including the Yoons' house. 

The government admitted liability, but the two sides could not agree on how much money Don Yoon and Young Mi Moon's family should get for their loss.


A federal judge heard the evidence in an emotionally grueling two-day trial earlier this month, which included tearful testimony from the families.

Don Yoon described how it rained for just a few minutes the day of the funeral as his wife's casket was lowered into the ground. He thought the rain was his dead wife's tears, being shed for him.

In closing arguments, 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.

Young Mi Yoon's father, Sanghyun Lee, should get $20.2 million, his lawyers argued. That figure included $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 Yoon's three siblings $2.5 million apiece in emotional damages.

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

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 Miller to be "fair and reasonable, without being excess or punitive," in his award to the family.

Don Yoon was awarded the following:

  • $1.2 million for the total wage loss, past and future, of wages that his wife would have earned.
  • $250,000 for the total loss of household services, past and future, that his wife would have provided.
  • $2 million for past non-economic damages resulting from the death of his wife.
  • $4 million for future non-economic damages resulting from the death of his wife.
  • $65,000 for the loss of personal property.
  • $300,000 for the past non-economic damages resulting from the loss of his daughter Grace Yoon.
  • $1 million for future non-economic damages resulting from the death of his daughter Grace Yoon.
  • $200,000 for past non-economic damages resulting from the death of his daughter Rachel Yoon.
  • $600,000 for future non-economic damages resulting from the death of his daughter Rachel Yoon.

Don Yoon's father in law, Sanhyum Lee, was awarded the following:

  • $230,000 for economic damages, past and future, resulting from the death of his wife, Seokim Kim-Lee.
  • $1 million for past non-economic damages, resulting from the death of Seokim Kim-Lee.
  • $2 million for future non-economic damages, resulting from the death of Seokim Kim-Lee.
  • $250,000 for past non-economic damages resulting from the death of his daughter, Young Mi Yoon.
  • $250,000 for future non-economic damages resulting from the death of his daughter, Young Mi Yoon.
  • $500,000 for past non-economic damages resulting from the death of Seokim Kim-Lee.
The rest of the money was divided among other family members.

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