Boeing 737 MAX Litigation Update
September 16, 2020
- Kreindler & Kreindler represents 32 families who lost loved ones in the crash of the Boeing 737 MAX operated as Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
- Kreindler attorneys comment on issues with the Boeing 737 MAX.
- Kreindler continues the fight to have the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy heard by a U.S. court.
In the media
Over 900 family members and friends of victims killed in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Boeing 737 MAX crash have signed and sent a letter to President Biden and Transportation Secretary Buttigieg requesting they replace the top management at the FAA. The letter details lapses in oversight among other continued failures by the FAA following the deadly Boeing 737 MAX tragedies. The victims’ families are committed to seeing that the current administration appoints FAA management that places the interests of the flying public above Boeing’s profit.
Long sought after investigation documents are expected to be turned over to plaintiffs attorneys by Boeing as part of the Boeing 737 MAX crash lawsuit. Attorney Justin Green and Kreindler & Kreindler represent the families of 32 victims who were tragically killed as a result of the March 10, 2019 crash.
- Filing AC
- Challenge to Deferred Prosecution
- 2nd Anniversary
The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Boeing has entered into an agreement in order to resolve a criminal charge relating to the company’s conspiracy to defraud the FAA in connection with the evaluation of the 737 MAX airplane. A portion of the settlement includes $500 million allocated for a crash-victim beneficiaries fund. This agreement and fund are separate from the ongoing civil lawsuit filed by Kreindler & Kreindler and other law firms representing the families of victims.
See Department of Justice release.
Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception...
The DOJ’s announcement includes the following description:
In and around November 2016, two of Boeing’s 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots, one who was then the 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot and another who would later become the 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot, discovered information about an important change to MCAS. Rather than sharing information about this change with the FAA AEG, Boeing, through these two 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots, concealed this information and deceived the FAA AEG about MCAS.
Boeing’s admissions in this deferred prosecution agreement should be a positive step for the plaintiffs as we pursue the civil case against Boeing and seek additional compensation for our clients.
The case continues to progress as we push the NTSB for the release of certain Boeing and FAA documents which the NTSB claims international law requires them to withhold until the completion of the Ethiopian government’s investigation of the ET 302 crash, or until the two-year anniversary of the crash, whichever comes first. We do not believe that any investigation remains ongoing in Ethiopia and, thus, we are fighting for the immediate release of the documents. You can read more about this effort at ProPublica.
The FAA should reevaluate the airplane as a whole and only permit it to fly if the FAA is completely satisfied that the 737 MAX is not a danger.
Over 2,000 friends and family members of victims killed in the Boeing 737 Max ET302 disaster sent a formal letter to Congress urging them not to allow Boeing to hide behind the curtain of “FAA certification.” Last week, a U.S. House subcommittee wrapped up their 18-month long investigation of the Boeing 737 Max certification process with a scathing report, concluding that “Boeing failed in its design and development of the MAX, and the FAA failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft.”
The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and its Subcommittee on Aviation released a damning report today on Boeing’s misconduct in connection with the design and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX. After an 18-month investigation, which included interviews of numerous Boeing personnel and whistleblowers, the report makes crystal clear that Boeing withheld critical system safety information about the MCAS from the FAA.
FAA sent a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for a Boeing 737 MAX airworthiness directive (AD) (pdf file) to the Office of the Federal Register for publication. “The NPRM proposes mandating a number of design changes to address an identified unsafe condition.” When the NPRM publishes in the Federal Register, a 45-day public comment period will begin.
On June 17, 2020, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation convened a hearing to examine the FAA’s oversight of aircraft certification. The hearing provided an opportunity for the committee to review issues associated with the design, development, certification and operation of the Boeing 737 MAX and to consider potential legislative opportunities to reform the FAA certification process for commercial aircraft.
View the webcast of the June 17, 2020 FAA hearing in Washington, DC, regarding Oversight of Aircraft Certification and the Boeing 737 MAX.
We believe that Boeing and the FAA focused too much on meeting the minimum certification standards and not enough on making sure the MAX was safe. We will seek to ensure that manufacturers will not be permitted to attempt to escape responsibility for wrongdoing by hiding behind the FAA’s certification of a defective aircraft.
During the hearing, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson agreed that the responsibility to produce a safe airplane belonged to Boeing and that the MCAS should have been included in the 737 MAX pilot manuals. He conceded that Boeing made mistakes in its manufacture of the plane, and the FAA also erred in its oversight of Boeing.
The next status conference is set for August 18, 2020.
Supreme Court Turns Down Sikkelee, but Federal Preemption Remains a Clear and Present Danger, American Association for Justice, Aviation Law Newsletter, Spring 2020. Kreindler partner and Co-Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee Justin Green authors a new paper regarding Federal Preemption — an important issue in the Boeing litigation.
Restoring Confidence in Aviation Safety: Aviation Law 2020, International Comparative Legal Guide, Contributors: Justin Green and Marc Moller.
Far From the Spotlight, a Boeing Partner Feels the Heat, New York Times, Co-Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and Kreindler partner Justin Green quoted.
Mr. Muilenburg has been apologetic in his testimony, but it is more important to my clients that Boeing do the right things than for it to say the right things.
Boeing CEO accused of telling ‘half-truths’ in 737 MAX hearing, Reuters Business News.
Ethiopian crash victims want 737 MAX documents from Boeing, FAA, Reuters Business News. Kreindler partner and Co-Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee Justin Green discusses the Boeing 737 MAX case.
Six Kreindler aviation attorneys have been appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee by Judge Jorge L. Alonso of the Northern District of Illinois federal court. The Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee will lead the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 investigation, discovery, and litigation against Boeing and other defendants.
Judge Alonso also selected Kreindler partner Justin T. Green as Co-Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.
In addition to Mr. Green, Kreindler partners and attorneys named in Judge Alonso’s order include:
- Brian Alexander
- Dan Rose
- Anthony Tarricone
- Megan Benett
- Erin Applebaum
Firm partner Andrew Maloney, of Counsel Marc Moller, attorney Vincent Lesch, attorney Kevin Mahoney, and senior paralegal manager Anne Habig will also play important roles on the Kreindler team prosecuting the case.
Now that most families have retained counsel, it is time to do the hard work that must be completed to prepare the case for trial.
The court has accepted plaintiffs’ argument that discovery should commence, and there is currently a May discovery cut-off, so during the coming months, plaintiffs will be collecting the Boeing and Federal Aviation Administration documents we need and will also be taking the testimony of key witnesses under oath.
Kreindler attorneys have devoted our all to this important case, and we are proud of the support that we have received from our colleagues at the many other aviation law firms who supported our appointment.
Boeing’s Crashes Expose Systemic Failings, Der Spiegel International, featuring Kreindler aviation attorneys Marc Moller and Justin Green.
Justin Green featured in New York Times podcast
Boeing makes $100 million pledge for 737 MAX crash-related support, Reuters Business News. Justin Green quoted.
The case will focus, in part, on the intertwined relationship between the FAA and Boeing, which allows Boeing engineers to act as designated FAA safety inspectors during the certification process.
Boeing Hit with More Lawsuits over Fatal Crash, Euractive Media Network. Kreindler partner Anthony Tarricone on the lawsuits filed this week.
Kreindler files additional lawsuits against Boeing and Rosemount Aerospace on behalf of the families of victims of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash. 26-year-old Virginia Chimenti of Italy, who devoted her life to fighting world hunger, was lost as a result of the March 10th crash. Ghislaine De Claremont was tragically killed while traveling to Africa on the “trip of a lifetime” — a 60th birthday gift from family, friends and colleagues.
Boeing Crash Fight Will Set Price on Victims’ Minutes of Terror, Bloomberg Business
Boeing made inexcusable errors in its programming of its Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
Kreindler, along with co-counsel Powers, Rogers and Smith LLP filed two federal wrongful death lawsuits in Chicago, Illinois, against Boeing Company and Rosemount Aerospace on behalf of humanitarians Dr. Carlo Spini and his wife, Gabriella Viciani, who were killed as a result of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019.
An Early Question in the Boeing Crash Lawsuits: Where Should the Claims Be Heard? The Wall Street Journal
Boeing violated a basic principle of aircraft design by allowing a single point failure to trigger a sequence of events that could result in a loss of control.
Boeing’s ‘single point failure’: Why was there no backup system on 737 Max jet?, USA Today. Kreindler partner Brian Alexander quoted.
Kreindler has been retained by multiple families who lost loved ones in the crash of the Boeing 737 Max operated as Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
This is clearly a Boeing safety issue, and all the relevant information concerning that safety issue is in the U.S.
The Battle Over the Future of Boeing’s 737 Max is Heading to U.S. Courts, Quartz Africa Media. Kreindler partner Dan Rose is quoted.
Ethiopian Airlines Crash Raises Questions About Boeing 737 Max Certification Process, USA Today. Partner Daniel Rose quoted in the USA Today article.
Insurers Face Large Claims After Second Boeing 737 MAX Crash, Reuters Business News. Kreindler partner Justin Green.
Please read our statement regarding
representing families in this tragedy.
The families of victims are urged not to accept any preliminary offer of compensation presented to them by Ethiopian Airlines since families who accept the airline’s initial offer may very well be prohibited from filing any subsequent legal actions against it and perhaps even Boeing.
Kreindler & Kreindler offers to review correspondence and compensation offers from Ethiopian Airlines or their insurer to family members of crash victims at no charge and with no obligation. We will review the documents and correspondence and provide our legal advice to the family or their representative free at no charge.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Accident
On Sunday, March 10th, for the second time in less than five months, a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX fell from the sky after reportedly encountering abnormalities with its airspeed shortly after takeoff. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 departed Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for Nairobi, Kenya, at 8:38 a.m. for what should have been an uneventful two-hour flight between the two capital cities. But just six minutes after departure, the aircraft suddenly began to experience abnormal variations in its altitude and airspeed. The pilot notified air traffic control and was granted permission to return to Addis Ababa. Moments later, Flight 302 was lost from radar and crashed 17 miles southeast of the airport, killing all 157 people on board. The victims included citizens from 35 different countries, including 8 Americans and 17 Canadians.
Lion Air Flight 601 Accident
The accident aircraft is the same model involved in the October 29, 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight 601 over the Java Sea in Indonesia. Though the cause of the disaster has yet to be conclusively determined, the available radar-based flight data and the apparent on-board abnormalities that immediately preceded the Ethiopian crash are strikingly similar to the final minutes of Flight 601.
It is highly unusual for a brand new commercial aircraft flown by an experienced crew to crash just minutes after takeoff — let alone two in five months. Due to these extraordinary circumstances, several countries with air carriers flying the new 737 MAX have grounded the plane, meaning that no flights will be permitted until further notice. American and European authorities are evaluating the situation and could yet take the same action.
Similarities to the Crash of Lion Air 601
The Lion Air crash is suspected to have been caused by a malfunction in the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The MCAS was intended as a safety feature and designed by Boeing specifically for the 737 MAX. In developing the new model, Boeing engineers fitted larger, more fuel-efficient engines under the wings of the standard 737 by positioning the new engines farther forward and higher up. Though relatively slight, this redesign changed the aircraft’s aerodynamics and how it handles in certain phases of flight. Specifically, the new design tends to cause an upward pitching motion when flying manually, which can result in the plane’s nose nudging skyward, putting the aircraft at risk of an aerodynamic stall — a risk that is most prominent during takeoff and climb.
To address this, Boeing added a new computerized system to the MAX: the MCAS. If the MAX’s “angle of attack” (i.e., nose pitch-up) were to exceed a certain threshold based on airspeed and altitude, the system would automatically tilt the plane’s horizontal stabilizer trim upward in order to pitch the nose back down.
In the Lion Air crash, investigators believe that aircraft’s angle of attack (AOA) sensor malfunctioned at some point prior to the crash causing the plane’s avionics system to mistakenly interpret that the aircraft was in danger of stalling when it was not. Based on this faulty reading, the MCAS automatically compensated by pushing the plane’s nose downward to avoid a stall. This caused the pilots to lose control of plane, which led to the fatal crash.
In all aircraft, including earlier 737 models, pilots naturally pull back on the plane’s yoke in order to raise the nose if the plane begins to pitch down. In the 737 MAX, however, manual pullback of the yoke does not override the MCAS trim system and the aircraft will continue to pitch down unless the pilot disconnects the automatic trim system and trims the aircraft manually. It has not yet been determined why the Lion Air pilots were unable to regain control of their aircraft, but it has been widely reported that Boeing failed to provide its operators with an adequate description of the MCAS system and recommendations for pilot training in the event of a potential malfunction. Almost immediately after the Lion Air crash, Boeing issued instructions to airlines flying the 737 MAX to explain how pilots should react in the event of erroneous readings from the plane’s altitude and airspeed indicators.
It is particularly disturbing that despite having received training updates about the MCAS system following the Lion Air crash, the pilots of Ethiopian Flight 302 were still unable to regain control of the months-old 737 MAX aircraft. This strongly suggests a dangerous design issue that cannot be sufficiently addressed by pilot action alone and highlights the need to properly address the evident danger presented by the particularities of the Boeing plane’s design.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Accident Investigation
International crash investigators, including teams from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, are actively examining the wreckage of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in an effort to determine the cause of the disaster. Both of the flight’s data recorders have been located. Though speculation is universally discouraged in the aftermath of an air crash, it is nevertheless extremely alarming that a 737 MAX — Boeing’s newest version of its most popular aircraft – has crashed for the second time in a matter of months after experiencing significant, and presumably uncontrollable, deviations in altitude and airspeed shortly after takeoff. As of Monday morning, March 11th, aviation authorities in Ethiopia, China, Indonesia and the Cayman Islands have grounded the countries’ 737 MAX jets. Of the domestic carriers, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines operate the 737 MAX. All have indicated that they have no immediate plans to ground the aircraft and have expressed confidence in the airworthiness of their fleets. Boeing has similarly indicated that it does not intend to issue any new warnings or advisories in the aftermath of the crash. The FAA has yet to comment in this regard.
Kreindler & Kreindler
Kreindler is one of the largest and most distinguished aviation accident law firms in the world. Since 1950, our attorneys have served as lead counsel in nearly every major commercial aviation disaster litigation.
The Kreindler firm is conducting its own investigation into the accident and is available to answer questions and address inquiries regarding the Ethiopian Airways Flight 302 disaster. Our investigation will include a thorough comparison between the flight data from the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the available data from the Lion Air crash.
We wrote the book
Kreindler has literally written the book on aviation accident law. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles and treatises, including the leading treatise in the aviation litigation field, Aviation Accident Law.
Photo Credit: Boeing 737 MAX plane, LLBG Spotter