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Families File Suit in Fatal San Diego Navy Helicopter Crash

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Relatives of three sailors, who died after a helicopter crashed off the San Diego coast during a U.S. Navy training mission, have filed a product liability lawsuit against seven companies that manufactured and sold the aircraft and its parts. The four victims who died in that crash were: Lt. j.g. Laura J. Mankey of West Hills; Lt. Adam Dyer, 28, of Lafayette, Louisiana; Petty Officer 1st Class Cory Helman, 27, of New Richmond, Wis.; and Petty Officer 2ns Class Christopher Will, 29, of Warren, Michigan. Our source for this blog was this Associated Press news report.

The lawsuit was filed on January 23, 2009 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The suit alleges that several parts of the MH-60S helicopter were defective, which caused the deadly January 2007 crash. The lawsuit names the helicopter’s manufacturer, Sikorsky Aircraft, and other companies that manufactured the components for the aircraft: Alcoa, Pacific Scientific, Hi-Shear Corp; Parker-Hannifin Corp. and General Electric. The helicopter apparently had been on a training exercise on January 26, 2007 prior to the crash and had taken off from the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), over the eight-year period from 1995 to 2002, 459 workers were killed on the job in helicopter-related incidents. Nearly half – about 47 percent – of those killed in such incidents worked for the government, including 150 in the armed forces. Although a number of helicopter accidents occur because of mid-air aviation collisions or striking a fixed object on the ground such as a tower, many of these crashes also happen as a result of defective products that malfunction during a flight.

I hope these families find the justice and closure they seek. Product liability lawsuits are only partly about money. Their goal is to bring defective and dangerous products to light and warn consumers about the manufacturers who put these products in the market. A product liability lawsuit typically claims damages from the manufacturer for medical/funeral costs, loss of wages, companionship, pain and suffering.

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