A federal judge ruled Boeing must appear in a Texas courthouse next week to be arraigned on federal criminal charges in the deaths of the 346 people killed in two Max plane 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 into 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,” the Clifford Law Office, representing some of the victims’ family members wrote in a statement.
In Thursday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas, located in Fort Worth, stated Boeing must appear in court on Jan. 26 for an arraignment because the victims’ families were excluded from the initial process. He ruled under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, which they should’ve 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,” Clifford Law Office stated.
Another lawyer and University of Utah law professor, Paul G. Cassell, also representing families of those killed in the two crashes, told The Washington Post that O’Connor’s ruling “is a real blow in favor of evenhanded justice.”
The Justice Department said in 2021, “misleading statements, half-truths, and omissions communicated by Boeing employees to the (Federal Aviation Administration) impeded the government’s ability to ensure the safety of the flying public.”
“We are glad they will be actually brought to an open court” to face the charge, Michael Stumo, whose daughter was killed on the plane in Ethiopia, told WaPo. He said he wants to see Boeing executives prosecuted:
“I am also happy that we and other victims’ family members will be able to finally address the court on what Boeing’s criminal conspiracy to defraud the FAA and cause the death of hundreds, including my daughter Samya Rose Stumo, cost us,” Stumo said.
Judgment day is coming for Boeing execs.