- Legal disputes are underway to determine the damages that Boeing may owe to the families of the victims of the accident.
- Two Boeing 737 MAX planes crashed months apart, killing nearly 350 people.
- Boeing lawyers say they don’t have to pay for the pain the passengers felt because they crashed too fast to feel any pain.
Boeing attorneys and the families of those killed in a 737 MAX crash are embroiled in a legal dispute over what kind of damages the company is required to pay under Illinois state case law.
In a Feb. 27 court filing first reported by The Wall Street Journal and seen by Insider, Boeing lawyers cited an expert who said victims killed in a 2019 crash hit the ground too quickly for physically possible for their brains to process pain before they pass away.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 10, 2019, hitting the ground about six minutes after takeoff at about 700 miles per hour and killing all 157 passengers and members of crew. Lawyers for the families of the crash victims say they should be compensated for the pain and terror loved ones may have suffered in the minutes before the plane crashed.
According to the filing, Boeing’s attorneys say “undisputed evidence shows the death was instantaneous, and any speculation about what the passengers might have felt on impact with the plane is without merit.”
Boeing attorneys said in the filing that under Illinois law, damages can only be paid for “conscious pain and suffering” crash victims if there is verifiable evidence. that suffering has occurred. But in the case of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, a medical expert quoted by Boeing said the crash happened at a speed faster than the human brain can process pain.
The lawyers argue that while they do not dispute the passengers suffered in the tragic flight, the lack of provable injuries means that any speculative pain suffered by the passengers in the milliseconds before their death is irrelevant in determining the damages as they would not have been aware. they were injured before they died.
Boeing lawyers also dismissed what they considered “speculative” claims from experts cited in court filings for plaintiffs who said potential nausea, fear of a crash or injury from the seat belts safety or being thrown around the plane would warrant damages, the Review reported.
In a separate filing cited by the Journal, lawyers for the families wrote that the 157 people on board “undeniably suffered horrendous emotional distress, pain and suffering, and physical impact/injury as they suffered extreme G-forces, braced for impact, knew the plane was malfunctioning and eventually plummeted to the ground at terrifying speed.”
Legal experts told the Journal that it would be up to the judge to determine what types of damages can be collected, and disagreed on whether Illinois case law is settled on the issue. damages before the accident.
The aircraft maker has accepted financial responsibility for crashes caused by faulty automated systems, and legal battles are underway to determine what kind of evidence to present to a jury later this year that will determine the amount of compensatory damages Boeing will pay. will have to pay.
“We are deeply sorry to everyone who lost loved ones on Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Flight 302,” Boeing said in a statement to Insider. “We recognized the terrible impact of these tragic accidents and we are committed from the outset to fully and fairly compensate each family who has suffered a loss.”
The statement continued: “Over the past few years, we have delivered on our commitment in settling a significant majority of claims and look forward to constructively resolving the remaining cases to ensure families are fully and fairly compensated.”
About 75% of the civil cases brought against Boeing over the Ethiopian 737 MAX crash and another a few months earlier in 2018 that killed a total of 346 people have been settled.
The company has also set aside a total of $600 million to distribute to families and charities in addition to upcoming court-ordered damages, including $100 million shortly after the crashes, and $500 million of additional compensation that was added as part of a $2.5 billion settlement with the Department of Justice.