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Did the victims of the 737 Max Crash suffer before they died? Boeing lawyers say no.

Boeing lawyers argued in court last month that families of victims who died in an early 737 Max crash were not entitled to damages because there was insufficient evidence. of “pre-impact pain”.

When Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plunged into the ground on March 10, 2019, after an almost certainly terrifying six minutes of flying out of control, all 157 people on board perished.

But since the jet was traveling at the speed of sound, they probably all died more or less instantly, Boeing said, so there wasn’t enough time for the pain to show. Therefore, the company believes that further compensation to the victims’ families for pain and suffering would be excessive.

“While passengers undoubtedly perceived the flight as frightening, humans tend to remain hopeful and not expect the worst,” Jonathan French, an expert witness for Boeing, said in a court filing obtained by the Wall Street Journal. “Ultimately, it’s impossible to know the subjective experience of every occupant.”

On the face of it, this is an absurd claim to make.

The passengers on board the plane, the plaintiffs argued in court, “undeniably suffered horrendous emotional distress, pain and suffering, and physical impact/injury as they endured extreme G-forces. , braced for impact, knew the plane was malfunctioning, and ended up crashing to the ground at terrifying speed.

Families and friends who lost loved ones in the March 10, 2019 Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia hold a memorial event outside Boeing headquarters in Arlington, Virginia on March 10, 2023.


But in Illinois, where the case is being heard, there is a legal basis for Boeing to try the argument.

Unlike other states, such as New York and Texas, the Chicago Bar Association notes that courts in Illinois have yet to fully determine whether a plaintiff can seek damages for “fear before impact” of a deceased person.

And the precedent set by a fatal 1979 American Airlines DC-10 passenger plane crash outside Chicago limited the damages that could be sought for such mental distress.

So far, Boeing has settled about 75% of the civil lawsuits related to the accident and presumably hopes to settle the rest instead of going to trial in June.

Boeing lawyers worried in a filing that if pain and suffering were on the table, “jurors would inevitably sympathize with the testimony about the passengers’ alleged fear of impending death and imagine themselves in the passengers’ shoes. “.

In a statement to HuffPost, a Boeing spokesperson apologized to the families involved and pledged to “constructively resolve” the remaining cases.

“We are deeply sorry to all those who lost loved ones on Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Flight 302,” the statement read, referring to another 737 Max that crashed. “We recognized the terrible impact of these tragic accidents and we are committed from the outset to fully and fairly compensate each family who has suffered a loss.

“Over the past few years, we have delivered on our commitment by settling a large majority of claims and look forward to constructively resolving the remaining cases to ensure families are fully and fairly compensated.”

The Huffington Gt

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