“The 346 lives that were sacrificed on the two doomed Boeing MAX flights will never return home, and they didn’t have a chance to survive despite pilots’ brave efforts,” said Mike Andrews of Beasley Allen. “They deserve justice by holding Boeing accountable.”
The family of a passenger killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this year, represented by the Beasley Allen Law Firm of Atlanta and Montgomery, Alabama, filed a lawsuit against the Boeing Co. Thursday alleging negligence over its 737 MAX aircraft.
“This action arises from the horrific crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight302 (“Flight 302”) on March 10, 2019 in which 157 people lost their lives,” said the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division on behalf of Sara Yakob, the widow of Getnet Alemayehu, a passenger killed on that flight.
“The aircraft involved in Flight 302 was a Boeing 737 MAX 8,” the complaint said. “This crash came less than five months after Lion Air Flight JT 610—another Boeing 737 MAX 8—crashed into the Java Sea on October 29, 2018, killing all 189 on board.”
The complaint noted that investigation of both crashes continues. The 737 MAX has been grounded since the second crash.
“Boeing extends our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those on board Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302,” corporate spokesman Peter Pedraza said Friday. “As the investigation continues, Boeing is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities.”
“We won’t comment on this lawsuit directly,” Pedraza added.
“The similarities in the aircraft and the investigative findings for the crashes thus far point to a common cause,” the complaint said. “Shortly after taking off and while attempting to climb, pilots for both aircraft reported flight control issues as the planes pitched up and down erratically throughout the sky.”
The complaint said flight paths and data released thus far for both aircraft show that the “pilots were engaged in a terrifying tug-of-war with the plane’s automated systems as the pilots manually tried to climb while the computer system repeatedly caused the plane to dive with increasing nose-down trim against the pilot inputs.”
The complaint said pilots of both planes “lost their fight with Boeing’s flight computer, and hundreds of passengers and crew lost their lives due to Boeing’s flight computer driving the airplanes into the ground.”
The family is represented by Beasley Allen’s Mike Andrews, who focuses much of his practice on complex aviation litigation, along with Adam Ramji of the Ramji Law Group in Houston.
In preparing the lawsuit, members of the family’s legal team traveled to Ethiopia, then rode several hours to the scene of the crash. Andrews described it as a 45-foot crater—large enough to hold a three-story building—in Tulu Fara village near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. He said only fragments of the plane remain, along with personal belongings of the passengers. He said the aircraft “throttled into the ground at nearly 600 miles per hour.” He said an armed guard escorted him to the site. He collected some of the aircraft’s fragments for later inspection.
“Visiting the site of a crash was surreal,” Andrews said. “Seeing the personal items that had been carefully packed away for travel just weeks earlier lay strewn on the ground and mangled together with pieces from the aircraft was overwhelming — especially when we know this crash did not have to happen.”
The lawsuit alleged the company knew about the glitch and failed to fix it.
“The 346 lives that were sacrificed on the two doomed Boeing MAX flights will never return home, and they didn’t have a chance to survive despite pilots’ brave efforts,” Andrews said. “But Boeing had numerous chances to make the aircraft safer, and time and again it chose to protect its bottom line rather than the air travelers who trusted the company. They deserve justice by holding Boeing accountable.”
Beasley Allen is a plaintiffs firm with 80 attorneys and 200 support staff with reported verdicts and settlements in excess of $26 billion. The firm has handled litigation over defective General Motors ignition switches, Takata’s exploding airbags, Gulf Coast states devastated by the BP oil spill, drugs and medical devices, Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, predatory lending and VW emissions software.