NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
SEATTLE — The families of 17 victims who died in the crash of a Boeing 737 operated by Lion Air is suing Boeing. The complaint — filed on March 7 in King County Superior Court by Seattle-based Herrmann Law Group — alleges that equipment aboard the Boeing jet failed, and that Boeing didn’t inform pilots about the potential dangers of a new automated system installed on the aircraft.
The Boeing 737 MAX crashed on October 29, 2018, shortly after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.
Investigators have focused on a new anti-stall flight-control system installed on Boeing’s 737 MAX jetliner as a factor in the crash, and pilots have said they were not trained in new features of the system that differ from previous models of the popular 737.
Pilots around the country reacted with outrage when they learned the new system had been installed without their knowledge or proper training.
“It’s pretty asinine for them to put a system on an airplane and not tell the pilots who are operating the airplane, especially when it deals with flight controls,” Captain Mike Michaelis, chairman of the safety committee for the Allied Pilots Association, told the Wall Street Journal.
The president of the pilots union at Southwest Airlines, Jon Weaks, said, “We’re pissed that Boeing didn’t tell the companies, and the pilots didn’t get notice.”
The complaint alleges that Boeing concealed the new system and minimized the differences between the MAX and other versions of the 737 to boost sales.
On the Boeing website, the company claims that airlines can save “millions of dollars” by purchasing the new plane “because of its commonality” with previous versions of the plane.
“Years of experience representing hundreds of victims has revealed a common thread through most air disaster cases,” said Charles Herrmann, the principle of Herrmann Law, which has an office in the International District.
“Generating profit in a fiercely competitive market too often involves cutting safety measures. In this case, Boeing cut training and completely eliminated instructions and warnings on a new system. Pilots didn’t even know it existed. I can’t blame so many pilots for being mad as hell.”
Former Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist, who joined the Herrmann Law Group in January, is working on the case with Herrmann. They met with victim families in Indonesia earlier this year. More family members are expected to join their lawsuit.
“These families are heartbroken. They deserve vigorous representation,” said Lindquist.
“As a prosecutor for 23 years, I was committed to justice, accountability, and helping people. That’s my focus in this case as well.”