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Family Wins $1.5 Million in Flight 007 Suit

March 13, 1993

DETROIT (AP) _ The family of a woman killed when Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was shot down by Soviet fighter jets 10 years ago was awarded $1.5 million by a federal jury Friday.

The award, which could total $3.2 million with interest, is the largest yet involving Flight 007. Two prior cases resulted in a $1.3 million award and a mistrial.

Joyce Chambers, 34, of Detroit was unmarried and did not have any children.

The commercial jet en route from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seoul, South Korea, was felled Aug. 31, 1983, after straying into airspace of the Soviet Union. All 269 people aboard died.

A federal appeals court ruled in May 1991 that the airline was guilty of willful misconduct for failing to correct the plane’s course as it flew into Soviet air space.

That finding opened the way for the 137 plaintiffs - relatives of victims - to seek other damages for financial losses above the normal $75,000 limit set by international law.

Chambers’ mother and five brothers and sisters sued in 1985. They were unavailable for comment, said Doug Peters, their lawyer.

After the plane was hit, the passengers still aboard the plane suffered through decompression and knowledge of impending death as the plane crashed into the Sea of Japan, according to a statement by another plaintiff attorney Lawrence Charfoos.

Jurors based the award on the sheer terror they must have felt, he said.

A spokesman for Korean Air Lines in Los Angeles could not be reached for comment Friday.

Update hourly