Texas Federal Judge Issues Apology to Families of Boeing Max Victims
May 4, 2022
The error completely is mine, on top of the government.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor apologized on Tuesday, May 3 to the Boeing Max families for not considering at the beginning of the case whether they were “victims” under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
The families have asked Judge O’Connor to rule that they are crime victims under the statute and were not properly consulted before the Department of Justice (DOJ) signed its Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with Boeing in relation to the company misleading regulators about potentially catastrophic defects in the 737 Max Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The DPA effectively allowed Boeing to pay $2.5B to avoid criminal prosecution related to the deaths of 346 passengers and flight crew following the crashes of two new Boeing 737 Max aircraft within 5 months of each other.
In reality, the bulk of the $2.5B settlement that DOJ attorneys negotiated with Boeing was earmarked to compensate for financial losses suffered by Boeing’s own airline customers who were forced to ground their fleet of faulty planes. Under the agreement, Boeing pledged to pay $1.77 billion in compensation to its airline customers (Southwest, United, American, etc.), a $243.6 million criminal penalty paid to the Department of Justice and $500 million to establish a crash victims’ beneficiary fund for distribution to the families and the victims’ heirs. This agreement does not affect any compensation already paid, or due in the future as a result of the ongoing civil litigation against Boeing and the other defendants.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Aviation subcommittee, told Judge O’Connor in a letter made public last week that “Boeing engaged in criminal conduct that defrauded government regulators and left hundreds of people dead in preventable plane crashes.” In the letter, Cruz said the Justice Department’s position - that the relatives of those killed were not victims under the Crime Victims Rights Act - was “simply nonsensical.”
The victims’ families were represented at the May 3 hearing by 7 attorneys, led by Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Utah, Paul G. Cassell. Representing Kreindler at the Texas hearing, on behalf of its clients was attorney and Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee member Erin R. Applebaum.
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