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Boeing Faces Renewed Scrutiny As Families Insist On Justice For 2019 737 Max Crash Victims

Family members of persons who died in the 2019 Ethiopian Boeing crash want charges against Boeing to be revived.

Government officials in Washington convened with approximately a dozen family members of individuals who perished in the 2019 Ethiopian Boeing 737 Max crash who are demanding the Justice Department to revive criminal charges against the company.

In 2021, Boeing reached a settlement that allowed it to avoid prosecution for allegedly deceiving regulators who approved the Max.

While Boeing has reached undisclosed settlements with the families of passengers who died in the crash, relatives of those affected by the Ethiopia incident persist in urging the Justice Department to pursue criminal action against the company in a federal district court in Texas, where the settlement was filed.

Officials from the US Department of Justice informed relatives on Wednesday that they are still deliberating on the issue.

Following the meeting, family members convened a press conference to express their disappointment with the Department of Justice. Zipporah Kuria, whose father Joseph Kuria perished in the crash, remarked, “Today’s meeting with the DOJ, has left me quite disheartened,” said Zipporah Kuria, who lost her father Joseph Kuria in the crash. “It’s not about justice anymore, It’s not about the miscarriage of justice for us anymore. It’s about the public safety.”

Paul Cassell, legal counsel for the families, pledged to “keep fighting” if the Justice Department moves to dismiss charges against Boeing this summer. He criticized the Justice Department for allegedly favoring Boeing, stating, “It appears to us that the Justice Department is continuing to give a wealthy, powerful, well connected corporation benefits than any other defendant in the criminal justice system would never get. If the Justice Department moves to dismiss the charges against Boeing this summer, we will fight them at every opportunity.”

Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya Stumo died in the crash, described the meeting as emotional, noting the frustration and anger expressed by attendees. Milleron asserted that the Justice Department is neglecting substantial evidence against Boeing.

“People are angry. People are shouting. People are starting to talk over other people,” said Milleron, who watched online from her home in Massachusetts while her husband attended in person. Relatives believe the Justice Department is “overlooking a mountain of evidence against Boeing. It’s mystifying,” she said.

According to Milleron, Glenn Leon, head of the fraud section of the Justice Department’s criminal division, indicated that the agency could extend its review beyond this summer, pursue a trial against Boeing for deceiving regulators, or seek dismissal of the charge. However, he made no firm commitments.

Meanwhile, Boeing executives have been compelled to prioritize safety over financial matters since an incident in January involving a door plug blowing out of a Boeing 737 Max during an Alaska Airlines flight, resulting in a sizable hole in the aircraft.

This setback has interrupted Boeing’s apparent progress in recovering from the two fatal Max crashes in 2018 and 2019, which claimed 346 lives in Indonesia and Ethiopia, respectively.

Melissa Enoch

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