Families of Boeing 737 MAX crash victims urge DOJ to issue $24B fine

Boeing 737 MAX at the assembly line in Renton
Thiago B Trevisan / Shutterstock.com

Families of some of the victims that perished in two Boeing 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 have urged the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to fine the planemaker $24 billion and move ahead with criminal prosecution.  

In a letter sent to the DOJ on June 19, 2024, Paul Cassel, a lawyer representing 15 families, said the large fine was justified because Boeing’s “crime is the deadliest corporate crime in US history” and therefore “legally justified and clearly appropriate”. 

In May 2024, the DOJ decided that Boeing violated its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement put in place following the 737 MAX fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.   

Under the agreement, Boeing was forced to pay a $2.5 billion settlement and agree to abide by several conditions in the future.   

The DOJ found that Boeing violated that agreement when a plug door separated from an Alaska Airlines 737-8 MAX on January 5, 2024, just two days before it was set to expire.  

Last week Boeing denied it had violated the 2021 deferred prosecution agreement. The DOJ has until July 7, 2024, to inform a judge how it wishes to proceed.  

The letter was sent on behalf of the victim’s relatives after Dave Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, appeared in front of senators at the Subcommittee on Investigations in Washington DC. 

There Calhoun was grilled about “Boeing’s broken safety culture” and asked why he had not resigned since the Alaska Airlines incident.  

In 2018 all 189 people on Lion Air Flight 610 died in a crash and in 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed killing all 157 onboard. Both planes were Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.  

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