Families of Marines killed in 2022 Osprey crash file wrongful death lawsuit

The suit names Boeing, Rolls Royce and Bell, the companies that make the Osprey.

May 24, 2024, 7:58 PM

Families of five Marines killed in a June 2022 Osprey crash in southern California have filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit, blaming companies that make the aircraft for the tragedy.

The lawsuit, filed this week, names Boeing, Rolls Royce and Bell Textron, which are each involved in producing the "tiltrotor" V-22 Osprey, capable of both taking off vertically like a helicopter and flying like an airplane -- by changing the angle of its propellers.

All five Marines aboard the Osprey were killed after a clutch problem caused a failure in the right engine during a training flight, sending the aircraft out of control over Glamis, California, according to a military report on its investigation of the disaster.

The investigation found the mishap was due to an "unpreventable" mechanical failure, and not any error on the part of pilots, crew, or maintenance personnel.

PHOTO: Ground level wreckage photo from USMC investigative report
Ground level wreckage photo from USMC investigative report.
U.S. Marine Corps

The Marines killed were:

-Capt. John J. Sax, 33, from Placer, California-Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, from Rockingham, New Hampshire-Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, from Winnebago, Illinois-Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, from Johnson, Wyoming-Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, from Valencia, New Mexico

PHOTO: Captain John J. Sax, Captain Nicholas P. Losapio, Corporal Nathan E. Carlson, Corporal Seth D. Rasmuson, Lance Corporal Evan A. Strickland
Captain John J. Sax, Captain Nicholas P. Losapio, Corporal Nathan E. Carlson, Corporal Seth D. Rasmuson, Lance Corporal Evan A. Strickland
U.S. Marine Corps

"John taught me to be brave, both through his life and his death. What happened to him, Nick, Nathan, Seth, and Evan on June 8th, 2022, should have never happened," said a statement by Amber Sax, wife of Capt. John Sax. "Our military members deserve equipment and aircraft free of failures, especially failures that can cause the loss of their lives."

Four families out of the five deceased Marines are being represented by the Wisner Baum law firm.

"The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the families of Sax, Carlson, Rasmuson, and Strickland, accuses the companies of negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and fraudulent misrepresentation for failing to make 'truthful statements to the government and to service members about the design, operation, and safety of V-22 Osprey aircraft,'" a Thursday press release from the law firm said.

The 2022 catastrophe was only one of several deadly Osprey crashes in recent years. In August 2023, three Marines were killed when their Osprey aircraft went down during a training exercise off the northern coast of Australia. That November in Japan, eight airmen were killed in another crash.

PHOTO: In this Dec. 5, 2022, file photo, a MV-22 Osprey aircraft is used during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton, California.
In this Dec. 5, 2022, file photo, a MV-22 Osprey aircraft is used during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton, California.
Orange County Register/Media News Group via Getty Images, FILE

After the November crash, the military grounded all of its Osprey, a precaution meant to give time to investigate potential problems and come up with safety recommendations. The military lifted the flight ban in early 2024, after emplacing several new protocols and restrictions.

"I have high confidence that the protocols we're putting in place will avoid a catastrophic event like this happening again in the future," said Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, in March.

"Despite assurances from companies like Bell-Boeing regarding the safety of these aircraft and their systems, the facts continue to raise concerns and reveal a starkly different reality," said Timothy Loranger, an attorney with Winser Baum, in a statement to ABC News.

A Boeing representative told ABC News on Friday, "We are unable to comment on pending litigation." A representative from Rolls-Royce said, "We are not commenting at this time." Bell Textron did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment.

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