Seattle law firm files lawsuit against Boeing over fatal Lion Air crash

Mar 7, 2019, 11:58 AM | Updated: 1:51 pm
Boeing Lion Air crash...
Investigator Nurcahyo Utomo holds a model of an airplane during a press conference on the committee's preliminary findings on their investigation on the crash of Lion Air flight 610. (AP)

A Seattle-based law firm filed a lawsuit against Boeing Thursday, alleging that the company failed to properly inform pilots of the “presence and dangers” of a new automated system, which led to a Lion Air crash in October killing all 189 people on board.

RELATED: New details highlight Lion Air jet’s problems before crash

The lawsuit — filed on behalf of the families of 17 victims — describes a tug-of-war between the 737 MAX pilot and an anti-stall automated system that forced the nose of the plane down into the ocean at 500 miles per hour.

Reportedly, the system automatically activated and pulled the nose downward, as the pilot unsuccessfully fought to restore manual control upwards of two dozen times according to flight data.

“When these pilots on the doomed flight met this problem, they had no idea what they were fighting,” Charles Herrmann, Hermann law principle attorney who filed the lawsuit, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

It goes on to allege that the anti-stall system — new to the 737 MAX — was not mentioned in Boeing’s flight manual, and that it was concealed to “minimize the differences between the MAX and other versions of the 737 to boost sales.”

“That mistake is driven by market forces trying to make the plane more competitive against Airbus, at a lower price, at least as far as training,” said Herrmann.


One of the bigger issues at play in the lawsuit is that with training, the issues with the automated system could have been avoided.

“There were buttons and switches there that they could have engaged that would have shut it off,” Hermann noted. “There was no backup, no redundancy, no fail-safe — either this thing worked, or it didn’t work.”

The suit looks to recover damages caused by “personal injuries and the wrongful death” of 17 victims. The plane involved in the crash was manufactured and assembled in Washington state, roughly two and a half months before the incident.

Boeing issued a statement of its own in the wake of the lawsuit.

Boeing extends our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those onboard Lion Air Flight 610. As the investigation continues, Boeing is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities. We won’t comment on the lawsuit directly.

Additional reporting from KIRO Radio reporter Nicole Jennings

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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Seattle law firm files lawsuit against Boeing over fatal Lion Air crash