Federal lawsuit by Marine family claims Osprey is ‘unsafe’ in any mode

Federal lawsuit by Marine family claims Osprey is ‘unsafe’ in any mode


A photo published in a Marine Corps accident investigation report shows the scene in Imperial County, California, where an MV-22 Osprey crashed on June 8, 2022, killing all five Marines on board.

A photo published in a Marine Corps accident investigation report shows the scene in Imperial County, California, where an MV-22 Osprey crashed June 8, 2022, killing all five Marines on board. (Wisner Baum)


The families of four Marines killed in the MV-22 Osprey crash two years ago have filed a lawsuit in San Diego federal court, alleging that the tilt-rotor aircraft’s manufacturer is liable for design and manufacturing defects.

The lawsuit filed Thursday names Boeing, Bell Textron, Rolls-Royce Co. and Rolls-Royce North America as defendants.

“The deployed aircraft do not and will not meet government safety and reliability specifications and requirements,” the complaint alleges. “The aircraft are not safe in vertical, horizontal, or any transitional or other modes of operation therebetween.”

The lawsuit stems from the June 8, 2022, crash of a Marine Corps Osprey (callsign Swift 11) in Southern California that killed five crew members: the pilots, Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire, and Capt. John J. Sachs, 33, of Placer, California, and the crew chiefs, Corporal Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois, Corporal Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming, and Corporal Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico.

The lawsuit, filed by the Los Angeles law firm Wisner Baum, names all of the family members except for LoSapio as plaintiffs.

“We want accountability, we want answers and we want change,” Amber Sachs, John Sachs’ widow, said in a law firm news release Thursday. “Our goal is not for this platform to be removed, but for us to one day be able to say, ‘their lives made it possible for others to live,’ and to know that what happened to them will never be repeated.”

The lawsuit alleges that the pilots failed to intervene when the aircraft’s systems failed during flight.

“Because the Osprey was not in compliance with government specifications, the pilot and crew of SWIFT 11 were powerless to counter an uncontrollable asymmetric thrust condition in the aircraft that resulted in a sudden loss of thrust from the right propeller and positive thrust from the left propeller,” the lawsuit alleges.

Bell spokesman Jay Hernandez told McClatchy News on Thursday that he couldn’t comment on litigation matters, according to the Charlotte, N.C., Observer newspaper. Stars and Stripes did not respond to calls from Boeing and Rolls-Royce outside business hours.

The Marines determined that the Swift 11 crashed due to dual hard clutch engagement, a problem that was identified in 2017 and has plagued the aircraft, leading to the grounding or grounding of Ospreys across the service at least twice while it was being addressed.

In the case of the Swift 11, the problem caused a “catastrophic loss of thrust from the right propeller,” leading to irrecoverable loss of control and the fatal crash, according to a Marine Corps accident investigation statement released in July 2023.

The Osprey has two rotating engines that enable it to fly like an airplane while taking off and landing vertically like a helicopter.

Tim Loranger, an attorney with the law firm Wisner Baum who specializes in aviation law, said his firm has spoken to families of service members who died in the crash of a Marine Corps Osprey in Australia and an Air Force Osprey in southern Japan, both of which are scheduled to occur in 2023. Eleven service members died in those accidents.

“We don’t know if there are commonalities with other crashes,” Loranger told Stars and Stripes on Friday. “We’re not speculating about a common cause.”

But if a report due to be released this summer on the Nov. 29 Air Force crash in Japan shows a similar cause, it “could help” Loranger’s lawsuit on behalf of the families of the Marines, he said.

Loranger, a former Marine Corps aircraft mechanic and Gulf War veteran, said he has experience with similar cases involving military personnel who would be exempt from compensation lawsuits under the Feres Doctrine.

“If something goes wrong because of a manufacturer or designer defect, I think we need to find that defect and fix it,” he said. “What’s particularly difficult is [cases] There are a lot of legal issues to overcome. We will take on cases where we feel they are justified and necessary.”



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