Boeing Victims Call on Judge To Dismiss ‘Unfair’ Sweetheart Deal

Family members of those killed onboard the 737 MAX are objecting to the plea deal between Boeing and the Department of Justice, which they believe “rests on deceptive and offensive premises.”

On Sunday night, Boeing reached an agreement with the DOJ to avoid going to trial in its ongoing criminal fraud case.

Boeing is accused of misleading Federal Aviation Administration regulators into approving its 737 MAX plane, the aircraft involved in the 2018 and 2019 crashes which claimed 346 lives.

If approved by a federal judge, Boeing will plead guilty to one count of fraud, pay a $243.6 million fine, undergo three years of safety compliance monitoring, and invest at least $455 million over the next three years to improve its safety and compliance initiatives.

The plea deal also requires the company’s board of directors to meet with the families of those who died in the two crashes.

Boeing victims' family members
Clariss Moore of Toronto, Canada, holds a photograph of her daughter Danielle Moore and stands with other family members of those killed in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 as she…

Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

The victims’ families immediately filed a notice with the Fort Worth court for the Northern District of Texas, signaling their intention to object to the proposed plea.

The notice, shared with Newsweek by the victims’ lawyers, outlines their opposition to the “generous plea agreement.”

“The families intend to argue that the plea deal with Boeing unfairly makes concessions to Boeing that other criminal defendants would never receive and fails to hold Boeing accountable for the deaths of 346 persons,” the notice read.

At an upcoming hearing, the date of which is yet to be announced, the families will ask the judge to reject the “generous plea agreement,” which they believe “rests on deceptive and offensive premises.”

The families have requested that the court delay setting a scheduling order for the hearing until at least July 12th, giving them time to organize a briefing outlining why the deal should be thrown out.

Paul Cassell
Attorney Paul Cassell, representing the families whose relatives died in Boeing 737 Max crashes, speaks to the press after Boeing was arraigned on federal crime charges at the US courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas, on…

Shelby Tauber/Getty Images

Paul Cassell, the attorney for the families and professor of criminal law at Utah University, spoke to Newsweek about the next steps in the case against Boeing.

“A judge can reject a plea deal that is not in the public interest, and this deceptive and generous deal is clearly not in the public interest,” Cassell said. “We plan to ask Judge O’Connor to use his recognized authority to reject this inappropriate plea and simply set the matter for a public trial, so that all the facts surrounding the case will be aired in a fair and open forum before a jury.”

Cassell previously called the aerospace giant’s agreement with the DOJ a “sweetheart plea deal,” and told Newsweek that the $243.6 fine was “a pittance for Boeing.”

Erin Applebaum, another lawyer for the victims’ families, said that avoiding a trial and imposing only “negligible” punishments on the company “will not do a thing to change the safety culture at Boeing.”

“When there is inevitably another Boeing crash and DOJ seeks to assign blame, they will have nowhere else to look but in the mirror,” Applebaum added.

Do you have a story we should be covering? Do you have any questions about this article?