A Texas federal judge this afternoon (Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023) ruled that Boeing must report next Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in a Texas courtroom to be arraigned on federal criminal charges in the deaths of the 346 who were killed in two Boeing MAX 737 airplane crashes in 2018 and 2019.
Initially, Boeing was granted immunity from the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a $2.5 billion deferred prosecution agreement entered in to in January 2021 regarding fraud involving the flawed design of the MAX aircraft that was never revealed to the proper authorities and officials before it was allowed to fly in the skies.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas located in Fort Worth is now asking Boeing to appear in court for an arraignment because the victims’ families were not a part of the process, and he ruled under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, they should have been. It is rare in U.S. aviation law history that a corporation is arraigned on criminal charges regarding the deaths of plane crash victims.
The attorney who has been successfully handling this criminal matter on behalf of the plaintiffs on a pro bono basis is Paul G. Cassell, a Distinguished Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, and a former federal judge and a nationally recognized expert in crime victims’ rights. He said, “The families appreciate the judge’s ruling that Boeing will be treated like every other defendant in federal criminal cases and arraigned. Some family members are making plans to travel to Texas next week to address the company criminally responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.”
O’Connor directed any lawful representatives of those that identified as “crime victims” who intend to appear to be heard at the proceedings must provide notice.
The crashes in 2018 and 2019 in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which cost Boeing more than $20 billion, led to a 20-month grounding for the best-selling plane and prompted the U.S. Congress to pass legislation reforming airplane certification.
For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909 (cell).