Attorney: Boeing violated 737 MAX settlement with DOJ

Boeing, by pleading guilty, violated its settlement agreement with the DOJ.
Trevor Mogg /

An attorney representing families of the Boeing 737 MAX fatal crash victims has filed a new case with the United States (US) District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The case argues that the company’s not guilty plea violated its settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ). 

The filing, which the attorney put forward on February 1, 2023, alleges that the manufacturer violated the terms of the agreement with the DOJ by pleading not guilty in a case in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas on January 26, 2023. 

Boeing was told to appear before the court by US District Judge Reed O’Connor in October 2022, despite the company’s settlement with the DOJ including a clause to make it immune from further prosecution. The two sides settled in January 2021, with Boeing agreeing to pay out $2.5 billion in compensation and fines to affected airlines and the victims’ families. 

Contradicting acceptance of responsibility 

District Judge O’Connor argued that Boeing’s settlement with DOJ violated a law that prohibits entities to conclude bargain or deferred prosecution agreements without the knowledge of the victims. As a result, the company was forced to appear before the court on January 26, 2023. 

The company then pleaded not guilty. However, in doing so, according to the attorney representing the victims’ families, the company directly contradicted ‘the Statement of Facts stating that Boeing is guilty of conspiring to defraud the FAA’. According to the filing, the settlement with the DOJ included a clause that barred Boeing from ‘contradicting the acceptance of responsibility’. 

The victims’ families also asked the judge to install an independent monitor to oversee the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) safety and ethics culture. O’Connor denied that motion, ruling that Boeing are required not to commit any further crimes. 

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