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Families of Five Marines Killed in 2022 Osprey Crash in Southern California File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

On May 27th, 2024, ABC 7 New York reported that the families of Marines who were killed in a tragic 2022 Osprey crash in Southern California have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several companies, including Boeing, Rolls Royce, and Bell. Serious questions have been raised about what these corporations need and should have known about the safety of the aircraft. Within this article, our Stockton wrongful death attorney discusses the tragic accident, the lawsuit, and the law for wrongful death claims in California. 

Five Marines Were Killed When an Osprey Crashes in Southern California

In June 2022, a tragic incident occurred when an MV-22B Osprey aircraft—which was being operated by the United States Marine Corps—crashed in the Southern California desert, near Glamis during an otherwise routine training mission. Sadly, the crash resulted in the deaths of five Marines, all stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The Marines who lost their lives were:

  • Nicholas P. Losapio
  • Capt. John J. Sax
  • Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson
  • Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson
  • Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland. 

The investigation into the 2022 Osprey crash in Southern California concluded that the crash was caused by a mechanical failure known as a “hard clutch engagement.” Notably, investigators from the U.S. military believe that the issue led to a catastrophic loss of thrust on one of the aircraft’s proprotors, causing an unrecoverable loss of control. The investigation determined that there was no pilot or maintenance error involved; the mechanical failure was sudden and unanticipated. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Families of Victims Suing the Manufacturers

In May of 2024, the families of four of the five Marines killed in the 2022 Osprey crash in California filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturers that were involved in the production of the MV-22B Osprey aircraft that was involved in the crash. The three major companies named in the civil wrongful death lawsuit are: 

  • Bell Textron; 
  • Boeing; and 
  • Rolls Royce. 

The wrongful death lawsuit contends that the companies failed to address known mechanical failures that contributed to the fatal incident. Indeed, the claims highlight concerns about the Osprey’s design and the interconnect drive system—which were supposedly known to be flawed and not up to U.S. safety standards. 

Product Liability Claims are Strict Liability Claims

Product liability claims fall under the category of “strict liability.” Most wrongful death claims in California are based on the standard of negligence. For example, a wrongful death lawsuit brought against a driver who was speeding is a negligence case. In these claims, holding the defendant liable requires proving that their carelessness/recklessness contributed to the fatal accident. However, strict liability claims against manufacturers do not require a finding of negligence. 

Under this legal doctrine, plaintiffs—including grieving family members in a wrongful death lawsuit—do not need to prove that a manufacturer was negligent. Instead, they must show that the product was defective, it caused injury while being used as intended, or that there was a failure to provide adequate warnings about its use. Manufacturers must take extensive precautions to ensure their products are reasonably safe. 

Understanding Wrongful Death Cases in California

Wrongful death cases are generally brought under state law. In California, there is a specific wrongful death statute in place that grieving families can use to bring a civil claim against a defendant that bears legal responsibility for a wrongful death. These have the potential to be extremely complex cases. They should always be handled with the highest degree of care, sensitivity, and professional skill. Here are key points to understand about California’s wrongful death laws: 

  • Eligibility: Not every person has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a tragic fatal accident in California. In California, the eligibility to file a wrongful death claim is primarily limited to immediate family members—such as spouses, children, or parents if the deceased was unmarried. In some cases, other relatives like siblings or grandparents who were financially dependent on the deceased may also be eligible to bring a claim. If you have any questions about wrongful death eligibility, a Stockton, CA attorney can help. 
  • Liability: Fault is key to a wrongful death claim in California. Liability in a wrongful death case in California typically hinges on proving that the death resulted from another party’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional action. However, with product liability wrongful death cases, no negligence is required. Defective product cases are strict liability. 
  • Deadline: Wrongful death claims are time-sensitive legal matters. The deadline for filing a wrongful death claim in California is typically two years from the date of the person’s death. The statute of limitations is crucial. Missing the deadline could mean that the claim could be dismissed without a hearing. You and your family do not want to fall behind the defense or insurance company. Consult with a Stockton, CA wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after your loved one’s fatal accident. 
  • Compensation: No amount of financial compensation can ever make up for the loss of a family member due to negligence or a defective product. Compensation in wrongful death cases in California may cover a range of damages including medical expenses incurred prior to death, funeral and burial costs, lost income and potential earnings, loss of companionship, and moral support. A Stockton wrongful death attorney can help your family. 

Contact Our Stockton Wrongful Death Lawyer for a Free, Confidential Consultation

At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton wrongful death attorneys are compassionate and experienced advocates for grieving families. If your loved one was killed in any type of fatal accident, it is imperative that you have an experienced lawyer on your side. Call us now or contact us online for a no cost, no obligation initial appointment. From our office in Stockton, we handle wrongful death lawsuits in San Joaquin County and all across the surrounding region.