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Boeing is using a ‘scorched earth’ strategy to keep evidence away from lawyers representing 737 Max crash victims, lawyer says


FILE - In this March 11, 2019, file photo, wreckage is piled at the crash scene of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. The year since the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max has been a journey through grief, anger and determination for the families of those who died, as well as having far-reaching consequences for the aeronautics industry as it brought about the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets, which remain out of service. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)

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Boeing is using a “scorched earth” strategy to try and keep evidence away from lawyers representing the victims of one of the fatal 737 Max crashes, one of the lawyers said.

Steven Marks, an aviation lawyer with Miami-based firm Podhurst Orseck,said Boeing has hardened its approach when dealing with the legal fallout of the second 0f the two crashes, which happened in Ethiopia in 2019.

Boeing is currently seeking to settle cases brought by the families of those killed when the Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed into the ground with 157 people on board.

It has largely settled cases from the earlier October 2018 crash of a 737 Max operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air, where 189 people died. 

The two crashes led to the planes being grounded around the world, and the greatest crisis in Boeing’s history.

They led to a string of lawsuits from grieving families, as well as Boeing shareholders. Airlines which had bought the planes sought compensation, others canceled future orders, and Boeing faced intense scrutiny from Congress. Its former CEO was fired in the fallout.

In an interview with Business Insider, Marks said that Boeing’s approach differed starkly between the Lion Air and Ethiopian cases. In the latter, he said, the company’s lawyers were refusing to provide evidence that the victims’ representatives want to see.

He called Boeing’s approach in the Ethiopian Airlines “the complete polar opposite of what happened in Lion Air.”

In the Ethiopian Airlines cases, he said, “Boeing took a very different scorched earth approach.”

In a statement to Business Insider, Boeing defended its approach and argued that it had taken its obligations to provide evidence “seriously.” A spokesman said the company had turned over close to 2 million pages so far.

Marks represents seven of the families in that crash, none of which have been settled. He has settled 37 cases from the Lion Air crash.

Marks is also one of the leaders of the committee of lawyers from different legal firms that all represent the families of those killed, which was formed by the judge overseeing the cases.

Marks described the provision of evidence as “the main point of pressure” that these lawyers have had with Boeing.

He said he and others had been “fighting with Boeing for more than a year” on what kind of information is relevant to the cases, including documents and witnesses.

“It’s been a real dog fight every step of the way. There’s almost never an agreement. It’s the complete polar opposite of what happened in Lion Air.”

“They’re trying very hard to limit to production of documents, limit witnesses that are available for deposition and everything has been a dogfight.”

He said: “Every little step of the way has been a fight and it’s been difficult to get anything.”

Marks said that his team of lawyers asked for documents that Boeing had produced in litigation with shareholders, including minutes of directors’ meetings and “email exchanges as to how much the board knew.”

One of the key questions surrounding the crash legal cases is the extent to which Boeing was aware of issues …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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