Judge Calls Out DOJ For Secret Negotiations In Plane Crash Cases Where Over 300 People Lost Their Lives
Two Boeing plane crashes took the lives of over 300 people.
An Ethiopian Airlines flight cost the lives of 157 people — and another 189 were killed on a Lion Air Flight.
For the second time in less than six months, a brand-new Boeing aircraft has crashed just minutes into a flight.
All 157 people on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa that crashed on Sunday morning have died, the airline has confirmed.
The tragedy follows the Lion Air flight that went down over the Java Sea in late October, killing all 189 people on board.
The DOJ began investigating whether or not Boeing lied to the FAA — and found that Boeing’s test pilots lied to the FAA about their new MCAS system.
The family members of those who died in the crashes wanted to be a part of settlement negotiations with Boeing – but the government told them there was no ongoing criminal investigation.
Then, the DOJ agreed to a secret settlement with Boeing.
Family members of victims of the crash then challenged the settlement in court.
The families of victims of the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 asked a Texas judge on Tuesday to overturn a $2.5 billion settlement between the aircraft manufacturer and the U.S. government.
Under that agreement, Boeing admitted to having committed fraud in exchange for the Department of Justice dropping some of the proceedings against it over the deadly crashes of Lion Air in Indonesia and Ethiopian Airlines, which killed 346 people total and caused the MAX to be grounded globally for 20 months.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas blasted the DOJ in a ruling on the case.
He said the crash victims were crime victims.
On Friday, Judge O’Connor handed down his ruling that the crashes victims were crime victims. He explained that the families had proven both direct (that is, “but for”) causation and proximate causation. Regarding but-for causation, the families had:
established a direct chain of causation. Had Boeing not committed its crime, the FAA would have required … [flight simulator] training for operators of the 737 MAX and would have included information related to MCAS in relevant training materials. As a result, foreign regulators—including Indonesian and Ethiopian authorities—would have issued similar training certifications and instructional materials, having taken their [cue] from the world’s leading authority on aviation standards, the FAA. And ultimately, foreign operators of the 737 MAX—including the pilots on Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302—would have received training adequate to respond to the MCAS activation that occurred on both aircrafts. In sum, but for Boeing’s criminal conspiracy to defraud the FAA, 346 people would not have lost their lives in the crashes.
Regarding proximate causation, Judge O’Connor ruled that the crashes were a foreseeable consequences of lying to the FAA (citations to the record omitted):
[I]t is generally foreseeable that Boeing’s deceiving the [FAA] which resulted in an improperly low level of differences training certification, would potentially cause a disaster. As noted above, reasonable laypeople could easily predict that inadequate pilot training might result in catastrophic airplane crashes, as it did here. And given the well-recognized global industry practice of foreign entities following the FAA’s recommended guidance, it was generally foreseeable that Lion Air’s and Ethiopian Airlines’ pilots, would have been inadequately trained with respect to MCAS because of foreign regulators’ reliance on the [FAA training requirements] certification and silence on MCAS in its [materials about training]. Not only was this outcome generally foreseeable, Boeing admitted as much [in an internal email]: “FAA is pretty powerful and most countries defer to what the FAA does[.]”
In light of these factual findings, Judge O’Connor granted the families’ motion for findings that the Justice Department and Boeing negotiated the DPA in violation of the CVRA. As explained in the families’ motion, the CVRA entitled the families the rights to: (1) reasonably confer with the Department about the DPA; (2) receive timely notice of the DPA before it was finalized; and (3) be treated with fairness during the process. As also explained in the motion, the Justice Department not only made no effort to confer with the families, it actually deceived them by falsely stating that the FBI was not conducting a criminal investigation into the two crashes.
What is going on at the DOJ?
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