Wife of a Marine Killed in North Carolina Osprey Crash Filed Lawsuit

posted on:
April 10, 2002

Justin Bachman

The wife of a Marine helicopter mechanic killed in the crash if an MV-22 Osprey in December 2000 has sued the craft’s manufacturers, calling the tilt-rotor aircraft “defective and unreasonably dangerous.”

Karen Runnels of Morven, in south Georgia, filed the lawsuit in Fulton County State Court on Tuesday in the death of her husband, Staff Sgt. Avely Runnels, 25.

Runnels was killed with three or four other Marines Dec. 11, 2000 when their Osprey crashed and burned on a night training flight near Jacksonville, N.C.

The V-22 Osprey can take off lie a helicopter and fly like an airplane, with the Marine Corps hoping to replace its aged helicopter fleet with the craft.

The Osprey is built by Boeing’s helicopter division in suburban Philadelphia and Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas.

The suit names as defendants Boeing Corp., Bell Helicopter Textron, BAE Inc. and fourt of its divisions, as well as 12 contractors who worked on the aircraft’s design and assembly. Those defendants have not yet been identified.

Spokesman for Boeing and Bell Helicopter said their companies had not seen the suit and were not prepared to comment on it. Robert Hastings, a spokesman for BAE Systems, said the company does not discuss pending litigation.

The Osprey was grounded after the North Carolina crash, which occurred eight months after and Arizona Osprey crash killed 19 Marines.

A total of four Ospreys have crashed, leading many critics to contend that the aircraft is dangerous.

On Wednesday, a Marine Corps spokesman said Osprey test flights are scheduled to resume next month because improvements have been made in the program.

“These aircraft should be permanently grounded, and I hope and pray that happens,” said Jere Beasley, a Montgomery, Ala. Attorney who represents Runnels and the couple’s daughter, Dakota, in the suit.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and compensation for the costs of his funeral.

In October, Boeing and Bell Helicopter settled a lawsuit filed by the family of Lt. Col. Keith Sweaney, who was also killed in the North Carolina Osprey crash.

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