Boeing Crash Victims' Families Urge U.S. Department of Justice to Fine Company $24B

Andrew Harnik/Getty Images via ABC News Photo Source: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images via ABC News

Families of the victims of the Boeing 737 Max crashes have called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to impose a substantial fine of $24 billion and criminal prosecution on the aerospace giant. This request follows two tragic incidents involving Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in Ethiopia and Indonesia, which resulted in the deaths of 346 individuals. The families have described the events as the "deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history."

The push for a $24 billion fine comes as the DOJ reviews Boeing's compliance with a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement which allowed the company to avoid charges related to the two crashes. Despite the agreement, the DOJ recently notified Boeing that it had failed to meet its obligations, citing ongoing safety concerns and lapses.

Attorney Paul Cassell, representing the families, emphasized the necessity of the maximum fine in a 32-page letter. The correspondence was prompted by the DOJ’s request for input from victims’ families on how to proceed following the determination that Boeing had breached the deferred prosecution agreement.

Cassell argued that such a penalty is justified and warranted given the severe impact of the crashes. Cassell also highlighted the urgency of prosecuting Boeing and holding the responsible corporate officials accountable, along with former CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

The two tragic crashes occurred within five months of each other. The first incident took place on October 29, 2018, when a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board. The second crash occurred on March 10, 2019, when an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa crashed six minutes after takeoff, resulting in 157 fatalities. Investigations revealed that both crashes were linked to a malfunctioning safety system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which caused the planes to nosedive.

During a recent Senate subcommittee hearing, Boeing's current CEO, David Calhoun, faced harsh criticism from family members of the victims. Calhoun attempted to apologize for the company's safety failures, acknowledging the deep grief caused by the crashes and stated that Boeing “is far from perfect.” However, the families remain unconvinced, insisting on a significant fine and stronger regulatory oversight. The DOJ has set a deadline of July 7 to decide if they will proceed with a prosecution.

The deferred prosecution agreement initially required Boeing to pay a total $2.5 billion. This amount comprised a $244 million fine to the federal government, $1.77 billion in compensation to airlines that owned the grounded aircrafts, and $500 million fund for the victims' families. However, the families argue that this settlement was insufficient given the scale of the disaster and Boeing's ongoing safety issues.

Nina Richards
Nina Richards
Nina earned her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Brandman University, laying the foundation for her interest in and understanding of human behavior. She works full-time at Law Commentary and is dedicated to merging her passion for pop culture with legal insights. Combining her analytical skills and interest in staying updated on trends, she strives to deliver pop culture legal news, bridging the gap between law and contemporary society.
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