The government has appealed the $17.8 million awarded to a family for the deaths of four people when a Marine jet fighter crashed into their California home.

The formal notice of appeal, filed Tuesday, did not specify the government's reason for contesting U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller's ruling that awarded the money to Don Yoon, whose wife, two daughters and mother-in-law died in the Dec. 8, 2008, crash in University City, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. A portion of the award would be split among Yoon's father-in-law and the father-in-law's three remaining children.

Kevin Boyle, Yoon's lawyer, said the only thing the government could argue was that the award was excessive.

"I'm very surprised, particularly in light of what was a reasoned and thoughtful ruling Judge Miller made," Boyle said.

The government admitted it was liable for the crash -- investigators blamed mechanical failure and poor decision-making by the ground personnel and pilot of the F/A 18-D Hornet.