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Boeing settles first lawsuit over 737 Max crashes

September 25, 2019

The US aviation giant has settled the first in a series of lawsuits filed by families of 737 Max crash victims. Boeing will reportedly pay $1.2 million to 11 families of victims killed in the 2018 Lion Air crash.

A promotional photo of the Boeing 737 Max 8
Image: Getty Images/S. Brashear

Boeing reached settlements with 11 families of victims from the deadly October 2018 crash of a Lion Air 737 Max aircraft in Indonesia, the company's law firm said Wednesday.

The settlement is believed to be the first of nearly 100 lawsuits that were filed against Boeing after its newly designed 737 Max was involved in two crashes: the first in Indonesia in October 2018 and the second in Ethiopia in March 2019.

The crashes killed a combined 346 people and resulted in regulatory authorities around the world grounding the aircraft while Boeing makes changes to the computerized flight control systems implicated in the crashes.

Read more: Boeing to pay $100 million to 737 MAX crash families

Both Reuters and AFP news agencies reported that the victims' families will receive $1.2 million (€1.1 million)  per victim. Chicago-based Wisner Law Firm said that six other lawsuits are still pending and that Boeing did not admit liability. The sources revealed the number on condition of anonymity because the negotiations remain confidential.

Wisner told AFP the firm is "optimistic" about reaching settlements on its remaining six cases for families affected by the crash in Indonesia,

Boeing pays and pays 

The settlements would come on top of payouts set up in the recently announced $50 million Boeing Financial Assistance Fund, which provides around $144,000 each to families of the 346 passengers killed in the 737 Max crashes.

Filing a claim with the fund would not require families to wave the right to sue to company, according to the fund's administrator.

Lawyers for families affected by the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash want a jury trial federal court in Chicago, where Boeing is based. They are demanding an explanation for why  Boeing allowed the 737 MAX to go on flying after the Lion Air incident.

Read more: Boeing posts record quarterly loss over 737 MAX problems

Lawsuits over both crashes highlight the role of so-called MCAS automated software that pushed the nose of the two planes lower. Lawyers claim Boeing was aware of design flaws that allowed erroneous sensor data to set off the automated system and overwhelm pilots.

The aviation giant has apologized for the lives lost in both crashes, but it has stopped short of admitting any fault in how it developed the 737 Max or the software. On Wednesday, Boeing announced it had established a new "permanent safety committee" to "oversee development, manufacturing and operation of its aircraft and services."

wmr/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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