Families of Marines Killed in Osprey Crash File Lawsuit

Family members of four out of the five U.S. Marines who were killed in the 2022 Osprey V-22 crash filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing Boeing and two other companies of being negligent about the aircraft’s design and safety.

Plaintiffs are suing Bell Trexton, Boeing Co., Rolls Royce Corp, and Rolls Royce North America to ask for answers and accountability regarding the aircraft failure. In June 2022, the servicemen, who were part of Camp Pendleton’s Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364, were taking on a routine fight when their Osprey, Swift 11, had a mechanical failure known as a dual hard clutch engagement outside of Glamis, California.

The complaint, filed in federal court on Thursday, alleges that the failure was due to the “Osprey’s lack of compliance.” It also says that there were no previous indications that a hard clutch engagement would happen. Plaintiffs say that they have suffered damages exceeding $75,000, and charged defendants with nine counts ranging from breach of contract to fraudulent misrepresentation.

The accident killed John J. Sax, 33, from Placer, California; Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, from Rockingham, New Hampshire; Nathan E. Carlson, 21, from Winnebago, Illinois; Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, from Johnson, Wyoming; and Evan A. Strickland, 19, from Valencia, New Mexico.

“As we approach Memorial Day weekend, we cannot help but think of the families of our service members who have lost their lives, not in combat but in training exercises here at home. Too many service members such as the Marines onboard Swift 11 have perished due to the negligence, and systemic failures of manufacturers of military aircraft and other equipment,” said Timothy Loranger, senior partner at Wisner Baum. “For years Bell-Boeing and others have asserted that this aircraft and all of its systems are safe, yet the facts keep telling a different story.”

The U.S. military temporarily suspended its use of Osprey V-22 aircrafts last November caused the deaths of eight U.S. airmen off Japan’s coast. However, the Osprey V-22 was to fly again in March. In response, the House Oversight Committee, which investigating the safety of the Department of Defense’s Osprey program, noted that the Department had not provided the committee with answers about the aircrafts’ safety. 

Ospreys are a unique military aircraft in that they are dual-piloted and have vertical take off and landing properties, which means it functions similar to both helicopters and airplanes. The aircraft has been the subject of much criticism, as more than 50 U.S. service members have died in Osprey crashes . Since the crash in 2022, there have been six other hard clutch engagement incidents involving the Osprey, according to the complaint. 

Ospreys do not have ejection seats or parachutes, which would help the crew evacuate in the case of an emergency. 

In the complaint, plaintiffs allege that the aircraft “has failed and continues to fail to meet the government’s safety and reliability specifications,” and that it is not safe for use in vertical or horizontal mode.

“There is a level of responsibility expected when you’re manufacturing, designing, and engineering aircraft that carry human lives. These Ospreys can carry over 20 service members, and each “near-miss” or mishap should be recognized for the fact that it had the potential for over 20 families to be standing on the tarmac at Dover watching a flag-draped casket containing their loved one,” said Amber Sax, the wife of U.S. Marine Corps Captain John Sax, who died in the crash. “That point needs to sink in — 20 families. One life lost is too many; 20 is unfathomable.”