Boeing crash victims’ families push DOJ to fine company $24 billion for ‘deadliest corporate crime in US history’

Boeing crash victims’ families push DOJ to fine company $24 billion for ‘deadliest corporate crime in US history’

Families who lost loved ones during two fatal Boeing crashes in 2018 and 2019 urged federal prosecutors Wednesday to bring “aggressive criminal prosecution” against the planemaker.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged the company in 2021 with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. after 346 people died in separate Boeing 737 Max 8 Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crashes, but it deferred the prosecution after the company agreed to pay a $2.5 billion fine.

Following the high-profile blowout of a Boeing 737 Max 9 door plug during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, the DOJ said last month that Boeing violated that agreement and would decide whether to move forward with the prosecution by July 7.

“Because Boeing’s crime is the deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history, a maximum fine of more than $24 billion is legally justified and clearly appropriate, although it might be partially suspended if funds that would otherwise be paid are devoted to appropriate quality control and safety measures,” wrote Paul Cassell, who represents some of the victims’ families.

Cassell also said the families “believe that the Department should launch criminal prosecutions of the responsible corporate officials at Boeing at the time of the two crashes, including in particular former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.”

The Hill has contacted a Boeing spokesperson for comment.

A Senate subcommittee grilled Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun on Tuesday in his first congressional testimony since the Alaska Airlines incident, and he sought to assure lawmakers the company was taking steps to improve its safety culture and quality controls.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hammered the executive on whistleblower allegations of safety concerns, corner cutting and corporate retaliation, including new allegations released by Chair Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) hours before Calhoun was set to testify.

Boeing quality assurance inspector Sam Mohawk alleged the company mishandled “hundreds” of faulty parts that were likely installed on airplanes including the 737 Max. In a complaint filed June 11 with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mohawk also alleged he faced “unlawful retaliation” by Boeing when he raised those concerns.

Families who lost loved ones during the fatal crashes showed up in force for the committee hearing, brandishing signs with the faces of those who died in 2018 and 2019 behind Calhoun as he spoke.

Calhoun began his testimony by standing and turning to apologize to the victims’ families.

“I want to personally apologize, on behalf of everyone at Boeing. We are deeply sorry for your losses. Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who step on board our airplanes. Every day, we seek to honor the memory of those lost through a steadfast commitment to safety and quality,” Calhoun said.

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