Two families of victims killed in the recent Lion Air crash are filing wrongful death lawsuits against Boeing, with attorneys alleging that the tragedy was caused by a defective anti-stall system and the aircraft manufacturer’s defective flight manual and operating procedures.
“Boeing knew or should have known its aircraft and flight operations manual were unsafe and created a significant safety hazard, but the defendant failed to notify or warn anyone, which has caused immense pain and loss for surviving family members,” said co-counsel, Steven Hart with Hart, McLaughlin & Eldridge.
Shortly after the crash, Boeing issued an updated Operations Manual Bulletin directing operators to existing flight crew procedures to address circumstances where there is erroneous input from an AOA sensor.
Issuing bulletins, the aircraft manufacturer said in a statement, was standard procedure carried out “whenever appropriate”.
Some have reportedly pointed fingers at the pilot’s response to the erroneous readings, rather than the technical issue itself or Boeing’s failure to include the relevant operating procedures in the original manual, as having a part to play in the tragedy.
The 737 MAX 8 departed from Jakarta’s Soekarno – Hatta International Airport around 06.21 on October 29, 2018. Shortly after takeoff, the Lion Air crew contacted air traffic controllers and requested a return to Jakarta. The aircraft received authorisation to return, but it did not manage a turnaround.
Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft bank left, make significant altitude shifts, and then drop sharply.
Data from flight radars showed the plane was at an altitude of about 5,000 feet when its final descent began. The aircraft plummeted into the sea and disintegrated upon impact, killing everyone onboard.
According to Kabateck LLP, the firm heading the plaintiffs’ legal team, more families are expected to engage the legal team “particularly given recent concern about attempts in Indonesia to coerce family members into signing away their right to seek justice in court”.
“It has come to our attention that there have been attempts to get families who are unrepresented by counsel to sign away their rights to sue parties like Boeing in exchange for insurance payouts that are required by statute. The families must get full recovery from all responsible parties,” said founding partner Brian Kabateck.
“We will make sure that families seeking recovery against Boeing are protected. We have coordinated with local Indonesian counsel who will work with us to protect our clients and the rights of all the victims in this matter,” added co-counsel Sanjiv Singh.
Last month, a court in the US allowed passengers of Emirates 521, which crashed two years ago, to sue Boeing for damages caused. A lawsuit was originally filed in the UAE, but was rejected by the judge.