The family of a businessman killed in the downing of a Korean Air Lines jet by the Soviet Union will receive $10 million, the airline's largest single payout over the 1983 crash that killed 269 people.
Korean Air Lines agreed Tuesday to make the payment to the widow and four children and three stepchildren of Chung Yeung Kim, 43, who died when KAL Flight 007 strayed into Soviet airspace and was shot down on Sept. 1, 1983.The settlement, approved by U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie, came as the trial for the family's civil suit was to begin.
The family's attorney, Richard E. Brown, said it was the largest single payment to victims of the flight by the airline. Other settlements have ranged from $75,000 to about $6 million, he said.
The plaintiffs planned to argue the crash denied the family of tens of millions of dollars in income Kim would have made had he lived. Kim owned a South Korean tourist hotel and several companies at the time of his death.
"They are very relieved that the case is finally over," Brown said. "It was going to be emotional for them to testify, even though it was 13 years after the event."
George Tompkins, an attorney for Korean Air Lines, confirmed a settlement had been reached, and called the $10 million figure cited by Brown "basically correct."
Tompkins declined to comment about why the airline settled.
The money, according to Brown, will be paid by KAL's insurance company, Lloyds of London, within 30 days.
"It is a lump-sum payment," said Brown. "Lloyds is going to have to empty the till on this one."