Ethiopian crash victims want 373 MAX documents from Boeing

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Wreckage is piled at the crash scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday, March 11, 2019. A spokesman says Ethiopian Airlines has grounded all its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft as a safety precaution, following the crash of one of its planes in which 157 people are known to have died. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

A lawyer for victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 said he wants Boeing Co and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to hand over documents about the decision to keep the Boeing 737 MAX in the air after a deadly Lion Air crash last October.

A week after Lion Air Flight 610 nose-dived into the Java Sea, killing all 189 aboard, the FAA warned airlines that erroneous inputs from an automated flight control system’s sensors could lead the jet to automatically pitch its nose down, but the agency allowed the jets to continue flying.

Five months later, the same system was blamed for playing a role when ET302 crashed on March 10, killing all 157 passengers and crew and prompting a worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX that remains in place.

“The decisions to keep those planes in service are key,” Robert Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, which represents families of the Ethiopian crash victims, said at a status hearing before U.S. Judge Jorge Alonso in Chicago.

Nearly 100 lawsuits have been filed against Boeing by at least a dozen law firms representing families of the Ethiopian Airlines crash victims, who came from 35 different countries, including nine U.S. citizens and 19 Canadians.

Families of about 60 victims have yet to file lawsuits but plaintiffs’ lawyers said they anticipate more to come. Most of the lawsuits do not make a specific dollar claim, though Ribbeck Law Chartered has said its clients are seeking more than $1 billion.

The lawsuits assert that Boeing defectively designed the automated flight control system.

The system is believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in both accidents.

Hauwa Mustapha