U.S. judge rules Boeing 737 MAX crash passengers are ‘crime victims’

Boeing 737 MAX - Credit BlueBarronPhoto / Shutterstock.com

A U.S. judge has ruled that Boeing 737 MAX crash passengers are legally considered victims of a crime, which rescinds the protection from prosecution that the company enjoyed.

The decision on Friday, October 21 in a Texas court effectively allows the families of the 346 people who died in the two accidents involving the plane, to sue the company.

Boeing was granted immunity after the U.S. Justice Department struck a deal with the company as part of a $2.5 billion settlement agreement.

Judge O’Connor ruled on Friday that “in sum, but for Boeing’s criminal conspiracy to defraud the (Federal Aviation Administration), 346 people would not have lost their lives in the crashes.”

Lawyers for the families had gone to court arguing that the government “lied and violated their rights through a secret process” and District Judge Reed O’Connor agreed.

Paul Cassell, a lawyer for the families, said the ruling “is a tremendous victory” and “sets the stage for a pivotal hearing, where we will present proposed remedies that will allow criminal prosecution to hold Boeing fully accountable.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland had met with some of the victims’ families who had argued their rights had been violated under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, but he stood by the plea deal agreed with Boeing.

That included a $244 million fine, $1.77 billion compensation to airlines and a $500 million crash-victim fund.

Boeing, who were found to have not disclosed key details to the FAA of a safety system called MCAS, which was linked to both fatal crashes, did not immediately comment. That system was installed to counter a tendency of the MAX to pitch up.

O’Connor ruled that: “Had Boeing not committed its crime” pilots in Ethiopia and Indonesia would have “received training adequate to respond to the MCAS activation that occurred on both aircraft.”

The ruling will add to the already massive costs the company has incurred and will further delay the return of its once-bestselling aircraft to the skies. The company has lobbied congress to waive a December deadline by the FAA to certify the MAX 7 and MAX 10.

After that date, all planes must have modern cockpit alerting systems, which the 737 planes do not have.

The news that a U.S. judge has ruled that Boeing 737 MAX crash passengers are “crime victims”, will be welcomed by relatives of those who lost their lives who will now be able to seek what they consider to be more appropriate compensation.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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