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Tacoma attorney who represents victims’ families reacts to Boeing settlement

RENTON, Wash. — The family members of victims who died in crashes of Boeing 737 MAX-8 planes were hoping for more from the prosecution, according to one of their attorneys.

“Victims’ families and their lawyers would have preferred to see a much more vigorous resolution,” said Mark Lindquist, an attorney representing some of the victims of the crashes that occurred in 2018 and 2019.

In a letter Lindquist received, along with other victims and their legal counsel, the U.S Department of Justice said:

“The proposed plea agreement was based in part on the feedback that the Government had previously received during conferral sessions and communications with the families and airline customers.”

Boeing and the DOJ had previously reached an agreement for the crashes that occurred in 2018 and 2019, but after a door plug blew off of a Boeing plane in February, the DOJ says the airline violated the deal “by failing to design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program.”

There are several main issues Lindquist takes issue with, the first being the charge Boeing is pleading guilty to —vconspiracy to defraud the federal government.

“Boeing is pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud in a case where 346 people died. A charge like manslaughter might better have reflected Boeing’s conduct,” Lindquist said.

Lindquist says he would have hoped individual executives would have been named in the charges, arguing they were the ones responsible for the decision making that led to safety and compliance issues at the company.

Boeing is ordered to pay $487.2 million in fines, half of which has been paid from the 2021 agreement. The company also agrees to spend $455 million on safety and compliance programs. The DOJ notes that is a 75% increase from what the company will spend on those kinds of programs in 2024.

Lindquist compares that to a speeding ticket for most people.

“Its chump change to a company the size of Boeing,” he said.

As part of the deal, an independent monitor will oversee the company’s operations for the next three years to ensure they do comply. Lindquist worries Boeing has too much control over that process, as the deal states Boeing will have “feedback” on who ends up in the position.

Lindquist, the former prosecuting attorney for Pierce County, says judges nearly always accept please between a defendant and prosecutor, though acknowledges there have been many unusual steps in the years-long process.

“From these cases we are hoping for accountability, justice, and also that Boeing reforms its culture so this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

When asked for comment, a Boeing spokesperson referred media to the Department of Justice and said of the deal:

”We can confirm that we have reached an agreement in principle on terms of a resolution with the Justice Department, subject to the memorialization and approval of specific terms.”

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