Published on Thursday, July 4, 2019

Lawyers scoff at Boeing's offer of millions for Max crash victims' families

Lawyers representing families of the victims of two Boeing 737 Max crashes have dismissed the aircraft manufacturer's offer of around £80 million of financial assistance as 'disingenuous'.

Boeing said the money will be used to help families of the 346 people killed in the Lion Air crash in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March this year.

It said the payment, which will be eked out over several years, is independent of lawsuits filed in the wake of the disasters.

The money is to be used to support education and living expenses for families and for community programmes, it said.

Boeing chairman and chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said: "We at Boeing are sorry for the tragic loss of lives in both of these accidents and these lives lost will continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and on our minds for years to come.

"The families and loved ones of those on board have our deepest sympathies, and we hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort," he said.

However, lawyers for some of the families told the BBC that the mney 'doesn't come anywhere close' to compensating them.

Texas-based Nomi Husain, who is representing some of the families of the Ethiopian Airlines' crash accused Boeing of putting profit over safety 'to get their number one selling plane to market'. This has been denied by Boeing.

Husain has filed seven cases on behalf of families, with some seeking damages of $276m. He estimated that about 50 lawsuits had so far been filed by victims' families. Some families are waiting for further information about the technical causes of the crashes and how regulators cleared the 737 Max to fly before deciding on legal action, he said.

Another lawyer, Robert Clifford, who is representing 23 families, said: "This type of offer so early in the litigation process is unprecedented. Because there is still so much to learn about what occurred, it also appears to be disingenuous."

Boeing has been working on a software upgrade to the Max control system since the double tragedy, which has resulted in the aircraft being grounded worldwide since March. It has yet to give a date when the upgrade will be ready and the aircraft cleared to fly again.

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