Families of slain Marines and sailors are suing the manufacturer of amphibious vehicles for alleged defects.
According to their attorneys, the relatives of eight marines and a sailor who died when their amphibious assault vehicle sank off the coast of Southern California in 2020 will sue BAE Systems, the vehicle’s maker.
Attorney Eric Dubin stated at a press conference in Oceanside near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps installation that an alleged design defect that the corporation knew about for more than a decade imprisoned the service members in the cargo hatches, leaving them unable to escape the 26-ton amphibious vehicle.
Dubin, who was joined by relatives of at least five of the service men who died on July 30, 2020, said, “They were kids, and they were put in a death trap.”
According to Dubin, troops were stuck in the vehicle for 45 minutes before it sank. The case will be filed in US District Court in San Diego in two days.
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The catastrophe, according to military leaders, could have been avoided. The catastrophe off the coast of San Clemente Island was caused by insufficient training, shoddy maintenance of the 35-year-old amphibious assault vehicles, and bad judgment by commanders, according to a maritime department investigation.
A total of nearly a dozen Marine commanders have been fired or reprimanded in some form. In June, the Marine Corps relieved a two-star general in charge of the exercise.
BAE Systems declined to comment on the pending litigation, referring all inquiries to the Marine Corps.
In an email, firm spokesperson Tim Paynter said, “We send our sincere sympathies to the families impacted by this tragedy and we grieve the loss of the nine service personnel.”
The families’ lawyers said they considered suing the military but were barred under the Feres doctrine, a 1950 ruling that states that service members cannot sue the federal government for injuries received while on active duty.
Instead, they are requesting that the military join the lawsuit and withdraw its amphibious assault vehicles from the water until the issue is settled. The Marine Corps did so for months while the accident was examined, but personnel have just returned to the water within them.
Lawyers claimed the troops who died were inside a decades-old amphibious vehicle. This is a condensed version of the information.