(Reuters) – Relatives of people killed in two fatal 737 MAX crashes asked a US court on Wednesday to appoint an independent corporate monitor to oversee Boeing Co’s compliance with the 2021 deferred prosecution agreement.
U.S. District Judge Reid O’Connor last week ordered Boeing to stand trial Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas on felony charges after the families of those killed in the 2018 and 2019 air crashes objected to the Justice Department’s agreement on amount of 2.5 billion dollars. dismiss the 737 MAX fraud charge related to a defective aircraft design.
The plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that cost Boeing more than $20 billion led to a 20-month ban on the best-selling aircraft and prompted lawmakers to pass a sweeping law reforming aircraft certification.
The families want O’Connor to appoint an independent monitor to oversee Boeing’s compliance; set a standard condition that Boeing does not commit new crimes; and publicly disclose as much as possible of the essence of Boeing’s corporate compliance efforts since 2021.
“Only an independent bystander – the proverbial second pair of eyes – can begin to restore confidence in Boeing and keep society safe,” the relatives said.
Boeing did not immediately comment, but CEO Dave Calhoun told CNBC Wednesday that the aircraft manufacturer did not mind the charges and expressed sympathy for the families. He said their views were “a good reminder of how important security is to all of us.”
The aircraft maker is expected to plead not guilty on Thursday, as is customary in deferred prosecution cases. In 2021, the Justice Department agreed to seek the dismissal of the charge after a three-year agreement if Boeing complied with all conditions.
In October, O’Connor ruled that the people who died in the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes were considered “victims of crime” by law.
More than a dozen relatives of those killed are scheduled to testify at Thursday’s arraignment. Relatives said in the filing that Boeing “committed the deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history.”
Both Boeing and the Justice Department oppose the renewal of the deferred prosecution agreement, which included $500 million in victim compensation, $243.6 million in fines and $1.7 billion in airline compensation.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)