Boeing settles more than half of Lion Air crash lawsuits: Lawyer

A relative of a passenger who died on the Lion Air flight looks through a window as he travels on a bus after attending a one-year commemoration of the crash in Jakarta, Indonesia.
PHOTO: Reuters

CHICAGO - Boeing has settled more than half of some 118 claims related to the fatal crash of a Lion Air flight on a 737 Max aircraft in October 2018, attorney Dan Webb said at a court hearing on Thursday (Nov 21).

Webb, a former US attorney and veteran litigator, recently joined Boeing's legal team to defend the company in cases related to the Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed all 189 on board and another deadly 737 Max crash on a flight operated by Ethiopian Airlines five months later.

Webb said 63 or 64 of the Lion Air cases had settled or were close to settlement.

He did not disclose the settlement amount.

The second crash, which killed all 157 on board after nose-diving soon after take-off from Addis Ababa in March, led to a global grounding of the Boeing 737 Max that is still ongoing and a crisis for the world's biggest planemaker.

Chicago-based Boeing has come under intense scrutiny for the development of the Max and the safety system known as MCAS, for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, that played a role in both crashes, as well as how much it had told pilots about the new system.

Boeing chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg acknowledged at congressional hearings in Washington last month that the company had "made mistakes and got some things wrong."

He has apologised for the lives lost in the crashes.

Some Lion Air cases settled in September for at least US$1.2 million (S$1.6 million) per claim, sources told Reuters at the time.

While some of the Ethiopian crash victim families are considering a settlement, many are pursuing a jury trial, where an award can be much larger.

Read Also
Boeing settles first Lion Air lawsuits for at least $1.65m apiece: Sources
Boeing settles first Lion Air lawsuits for at least $1.65m apiece: Sources

Robert Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, which represents families of the Ethiopian crash victims, said 103 lawsuits have been filed against Boeing so far over the second crash, with 30 more cases expected to be filed soon. None have settled as of yet in the United States, he said.

Boeing has been working on updated 737 Max software and pilot training aimed at winning regulatory approval for the plane to fly again soon, though regulators have said they have no fixed timeline for ungrounding the fleet.

In addition to lawsuits by crash victim families, shareholders and pilots, Boeing is the target of a US federal criminal probe and investigations by U.S. lawmakers and aviation and transportation authorities.

Boeing shares were down 0.5 per cent at US$369.42 on Thursday.