Lockheed Agrees To Tentative Settlement
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Lockheed Aircraft Corp. tentatively has agreed to a $10 million settlement of court claims brought on behalf of 76 orphans killed in the ″Operation Babylift″ crash of an Air Force-operated C5A in Vietnam 11 years ago.
The agreement would end just about all the lawsuits growing out of the 1975 crash near Saigon, in which 135 people, including the 76 orphans, died instantly as they fled the impending communist takeover of South Vietnam.
In 1982, Lockheed and the U.S. government reached a settlement of $13.5 million with 45 injured orphans who were adopted in this country. The cases of seven others were settled out of court.
Lockheed and the government agreed in 1984 to a $19.7 million settlement of claims on behalf of 78 injured orphans now living abroad.
As in the 1984 settlement, the parents of children covered by the latest settlement are expected to receive little more than half the money in the fund, the rest going for attorneys’ fees, expenses and court costs.
Under terms of the newest agreement, signed April 9 but unsealed by U. S. District Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer on Wednesday, relatives of two of the dead children will receive not less than $525,000 and not more than $1 million from the $10 million fund Lockheed will create. The United States recently was dropped as a defendant in the case.
A court trial had been under way on the claim of Willie E. Powell of Boulder, Colo., who claimed to be the father of Giang Thi Ngoc Diep, when the settlement was reached.
The claim of Nga Selzer, adopted child of Mr. and Mrs. Terry Selzer of Brooklyn, N.Y., on behalf of his sister, Nguyen Kim Hoa, was being prepared for trial though no date had been set.
The entire $10 million fund, including earned interest, is subject to attorneys’ fees, litigation fees and expenses, including those for experts and consultants, the court-appointed guardian for the live children, court costs and an award not to exceed $500,000 for the Friends for All Children, the Colorado corporation which had cared for the children in Vietnam and arranged their adoption and transportation out of that country.
The settlement is subject to approval by Oberdorfer who will decide the recipients of monies from the $10 million fund and the amount to be disbursed.
Any money remaining in the fund one year after the settlement was signed is to be returned to Lockheed.
Under the agreement, Lockheed is permitted to make one recommendation on the distribution of the money and then is barred from further discussion.
In papers submitted to the court Tuesday, the aircraft manufacturer’s recommendation included awarding $650,000 to Willie Powell and $525,000 to Nga Selzer.
Prospective parents of orphans with completed Vietnamese adoptions killed in the crash would receive a maximum of $45,000, while those with adoption proceedings underway would get $10,000 maximum and natural parents $5,000- $7,000, according to the Lockheed proposal.