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F-14 Crash Survivors Reject Navy Settlement Offer, File Lawsuit

November 5, 1996

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The families of three people killed when an F-14 fighter crashed into a home said Monday they’re insulted by the Navy’s settlement offer and are suing for $42 million.

Navy investigators concluded that pilot error was responsible for the Jan. 29 crash that killed Elmer and Ada Newsom and Ewing Wair. The pilot, Lt. Cmdr. John Stacy Bates, and a crewman also died.

The Navy initially offered about $850,000 total to both families.

``While no amount of money could ever replace a loved one, it has always been the Navy’s intention to compensate the families for their loss,″ said spokesman Lt. Rick Haupt, adding that settlement talks would continue.

Mike Newsom, one of five Newsom children and 13 grandchildren in the lawsuit, said he didn’t like putting a dollar figure on the loss of his parents. ``But it is the only way we have to make sure that their lives were not lost in vain,″ he said.

Ewing Wair’s children, Ewing Wair Jr. and Traci Wair, filed a separate lawsuit, although both families are represented by the same attorney. The Newsom family is asking $32 million, while the Wairs want $10 million.

The families are asking for compensation and damages for wrongful death as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress, a charge stemming from Bates’ unauthorized steep takeoff maneuver just before the crash.

Mike Newsom said the Navy further hurt his family by digging into their personal lives to determine how much settlement money to offer.

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