Lockheed Aircraft Corp.'s proposed $10 million settlement of the final suits involved in the 1975 "Operation Babylift" crash has not been approved by U.S. District Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer, contrary to a report yesterday.
Lockheed Aircraft Corp. has agreed to pay $10 million to the relatives and prospective adoptive parents of 76 children killed in "Operation Babylift" when an Air Force-operated C5A transport plane crashed near Saigon on April 4, 1975.
The settlement agreement, reached two weeks ago and unsealed yesterday in U.S. District Court here, marks the end of litigation involving the crash, in which 144 persons were killed. The plane carried 314 persons, including 247 Vietnamese children who were being airlifted out of South Vietnam shortly before its fall to North Vietnamese forces.
Friends for All Children Inc., the adoption agency that ran orphanages in South Vietnam and that placed the children on the plane, brought the suit and will receive $500,000 under the settlement.
It was unclear how much of the $10 million would actually go to the children's survivors.
Jacob A. Stein, one of the attorneys representing Friends for All Children, said that the settlement provides for up to $2 million to go to the relatives of two children who were suing Lockheed independently. Of that $2 million, Stein said, attorneys have agreed to a one-third fee.
The settlement was reached after one of those trials began before U.S. District Court Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer, who approved the settlement.
Lockheed officials could not be reached for comment.
Stein said the court was given authority to decide what additional attorneys' fees and expenses would be awarded and how much each survivor receives.
About 50 percent of the 1984 settlement of $19.7 million for 78 orphans now living abroad went to lawyers' fees and expenses. The claims of 52 children of American adoptive parents were settled in 1982 or resolved in individual trials.
Many of the children who survived the crash suffered brain damage when the cargo compartment, where most of them were seated, decompressed suddenly.
An Air Force investigation showed the crash occurred after a lock system failed and doors blew off the plane at 23,000 feet. Stein said in his opening argument that the doors struck the control lines in the rear of the plane. The pilot crash-landed minutes later in a rice paddy.