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Marines’ kin win $4.9 million suit

Navy Times

August 24, 1992

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The families of two Marines killed when their Cobra attack helicopter crashed in the Cleveland National Forest won $4.9 million from the maker of a fuel nozzle that failed, causing the crash.

Killed in the Nov. 14, 1986, crash were Maj. Kenneth D. Johnson, 34, and Lt. Tom R. Riggs, 26.

Johnson’s wife and two children were awarded $4.4 million. Riggs’ parents, who live in Oregon, were awarded $500,000.

The lawsuit alleged that the aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney knew a fuel nozzle was defective but refused to recall the part.

Jeff Davidson, who represents Pratt & Whitney, said the company probably will appeal.

“The fuel nozzles here deteriorate over time, and gunk builds up inside them. That can be solved by regular cleaning and replacement,” Davidson said. “And that is exactly what Pratt & Whitney advised the military to do.”

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