July 7, 2022

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737 Max is trying to withhold Boeing evidence in Ethiopian cases, the lawyer said

737 Max is trying to withhold Boeing evidence in Ethiopian cases, the lawyer said
  • Boeing is pushing for evidence in cases brought by relatives of victims of the 737 Max crashes, a lawyer representing some of them said.
  • Attorney Steve Marks alleges that Boeing used a “burned earth approach”, trying to limit the documentation and witness terms of the cases.
  • The first 737 Max crash outside Indonesia in October 73 killed 189 people and in March 2019 the second was 157 in Ethiopia.
  • Marks, who has been embroiled in cases since the two crashes – said Boeing had very little cooperation in the Ethiopian accident.
  • Boeing defended its policy, claiming that it had produced nearly 2 million pages of documents and was committed to working with families.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

One of the lawyers said Boeing was using a “burned ground” strategy to keep evidence away from lawyers representing the victims of one of the 737 Max crashes.

Steven Marks, an aviation lawyer with Poderst Orsek in Miami, said Boeing had tightened its grip on the legal fallout of the second of two crashes in Ethiopia in 2019.

Boeing is currently trying to resolve cases brought by the families of those killed when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed with 157 people on board.

This is largely due to the fact that 189 people were killed in the 737 Max crash run by Lion Air of Indonesia.

Lion Air

Families of Lion Air Flight JT610 victims, visit an operation center in October 2018 to see the personal belongings of their relatives.

Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Both of these accidents led to planes being grounded around the world and the greatest crisis in Boeing history.

They have led to lawsuits from grieving families, as well as from Boeing shareholders. The airlines that bought the planes sought compensation, while others rescinded future orders and faced serious scrutiny from Boeing Congress. Its former CEO was fired in the fall.

In an interview with Business Insider, Marx said Boeing’s approach was completely different between the Lion Air and Ethiopian cases. At a later date, he said, the company’s attorneys are refusing to give evidence that the victims’ representatives want to see.

Boeing 737 max

Undelivered Boeing 737 Max aircraft parked in September 2019 near Boeing Field in Washington. They have not yet been delivered due to aircraft grinding.

David Ryder / Getty Images

He called Boeing’s policy on Ethiopian Airlines “the complete opposite of what happened at Lion Air.”

In the case of Ethiopian Airlines, he said, “Boeing has taken a very different approach to burning land.”

In a statement to Business Insider, Boeing defended its policy, arguing that it had taken its responsibility to provide evidence “seriously”. The company has so far turned over 2 million pages, a spokesman said.

The marks indicate seven families in that accident, none of which were resolved. He has resolved 37 cases in the Lion Air crash.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX

The coffins of a woman and three children who died in the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max crash were photographed in October 2019.

Suleiman MBATIAH / AFP by Getty Images

Marx was also one of the leaders of a committee of lawyers from various law firms, all of whom represented the families of the deceased, and set up a judge to oversee these cases.

Marx described these lawyers as “a major factor in the pressure” with Boeing.

He and others have been “fighting Boeing for more than a year” over what information is relevant to the cases, including documents and witnesses.

“It’s a real dogfight at every step. There’s almost never a deal. It’s the complete opposite of what happened at Lion Air.”

File Photo: Ethiopian Federal Police in Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash near Bishoft town, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2019. Reuters / Tixa Negeri / File photo

Ethiopian federal police stand at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max Crash in March 2019 near the town of Bishoft in Ethiopia.


“They are trying very hard to limit the production of documents, to limit the witnesses available to the deposit and everything is dogfight.”

He said: “Every little step of the way is a struggle and getting anything is hard.”

His team of lawyers asked for lawsuits filed with Boeing shareholders, including minutes of directors’ meetings and an “email exchange on how much the board knows.”

One of the key questions surrounding the crash legal cases is how much Boeing knew about the Ethiopian plane before it flew.

But Boeing objected to the supply of minutes and emails that were not relevant. Prosecutors are pushing a motion to force Boeing to deliver them.

Boeing 737 max

Family members of those who died on an Ethiopian Airlines flight during the Senate Commerce Committee hearing in October 2019 sit with pictures of their loved ones.

Win Mechanism / Getty Images

Marx said Boeing had also refused to make available to Congress documents to assist lawmakers in investigating the crash.

In a statement to Business Insider, Boeing spokesman Bradley Acuburio said Boeing would take evidence seriously and would continue to work with lawyers.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those on board Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302,” he said.

“We are committed to continuing to try to resolve families’ claims. We take our innovation responsibilities seriously and have produced over 2 million pages of documents to date.”

“We will work with families and counsel for the court to resolve their best requests for information.”

Boeing made two crash updates to the malfunctioning system and the aircraft Hope to get permission to travel again soon.

Boeing has also previously committed to making flying safer when the aircraft returns to the sky.

Marx said his team of lawyers had recently filed a motion to force Boeing to provide some more evidence, such as access to employees’ personal devices and laptops: “The issue is now in court.”

Marx argues that he and other lawyers already “have enough innovation to establish Boeing’s responsibility”.

“But families and flying people deserve to know the full extent of the abuse that Boeing continues to hide.”

File photo: Painted Boeing 737 Max aircraft appears in an aerial photo on July 1, 2019 at Renton Municipal Airport near the Boeing Renton facility in Renton, Washington.  REUTERS / Lindsey Wasson

Painted Boeing 737 Max aircraft parked at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton in July 2019.


Marx noted that Boeing uses different law firms for each crash, leading to different approaches.

He noted that Lion Air cases are legally “slightly easier to deal with” than Ethiopian airline cases, because the victims belong to one nationality, rather than an Ethiopian accident.

He said these cases should apply more directly to U.S. law since the crash on international waters. The Ethiopian crash is on Earth.

The Ethiopian Airlines cases are currently pending before Illinois Federal Northern District Court Judge Jorge El Alonso.

File - This file photo from March 11, 2019 shows rescuers working at the crash site of an Ethiopian Airlines plane south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The death toll from major plane crashes worldwide has more than halved in 2019, with Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max claiming 157 lives on March 10, according to a report released on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 by aviation consultancy TO70.  (AP Photo / Mulugeta Ion, FILE)

Rescuers are working at the site of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash in March 2019.

Associated Press

How much evidence Boeing will have to provide on how the cases will turn out since they were brought against Boeing.

Is Boeing Lion Air cases have been previously investigated for moving from the US to Indonesia, Where the crash occurred.

This is a common practice in aviation litigation, but both experts and lawyers for victims say business insiders need to provide very little evidence on Boeing, and families can be left with very few bases.

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