By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Boeing Co on Wednesday agreed to acknowledge liability for compensatory damages in lawsuits filed by families of the 157 people killed in the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash, according to a filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
As a result of the agreement between Boeing and the families, lawyers for the victims will not seek punitive damages and Boeing will not challenge the lawsuits being filed in Illinois. “Boeing is committed to ensuring that all families who lost loved ones in the accidents are fully and fairly compensated for their loss,” the planemaker said in a statement Wednesday. “By accepting responsibility, Boeing’s agreement with the families allows the parties to focus their efforts on determining the appropriate compensation for each family.”
Lawyers for the victims in a statement noted that under the agreement Boeing admitted “that the 737 MAX had an unsafe condition, and that it will not attempt to blame anyone else” for the crash. “This is a significant milestone for the families in their pursuit of justice against Boeing, as it will ensure they are all treated equitably and eligible to recover full damages under Illinois law while creating a pathway for them to proceed to a final resolution, whether through settlements or trial,” the lawyers said, adding the compensation “will serve to hold Boeing fully accountable for the deaths of the 157 people who perished.”
Boeing’s best-selling plane was grounded for 20 months after 346 people died in two 737 MAX crashes in five months in 2018-19. The plane returned to service after Boeing made significant software and training improvements. The crashes already have cost Boeing some $20 billion. In January, Boeing agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice including $2.5 billion in fines and compensation stemming from the 737 MAX crashes including the Lion Air crash in October 2018.