A French widow has filed a lawsuit against US aircraft manufacturer Boeing for $276 million in damages over the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 in March, which killed all 157 people on board – including her husband.
Frenchwoman Nadege Dubois-Seex, whose husband Jonathan Seex died in the accident, filed the suit against Boeing in Chicago, where the company is headquartered.
“It is a tragedy which, by definition, could have been avoided, because it had already happened five months before. How could they stay deaf to this warning?” Dubois-Seex told reporters in Paris on Tuesday, referring to another Boeing 737 Max 8 in Indonesian company Lion Air’s fleet that crashed last October, leaving 189 people dead.
Boeing admitted Saturday that it had to correct flaws in the flight simulator software used to train pilots on the 737 Max, following the two deadly crashes that killed a total of 346 people. The aerospace company did not share when or how the flaws were discovered, however.
The admission of the simulator-software flaw comes amid intense scrutiny on Boeing and the design of its 737 Max. The plane’s MCAS software, which pushes the nose of the aircraft down if it senses an imminent stall, is believed to have played a role in crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines jets.
“The life of my husband was taken knowingly, and even willingly,” Dubois-Seex said, visibly emotional. “Boeing acted with cynicism. My husband was the collateral damage of a system, of a business strategy.”
Boeing spokesman Peter Pedraza declined to comment on the lawsuit, but noted that the company was “cooperating fully” with investigations into the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Jonathan, who was a Swedish and Kenyan citizen, leaves behind three young children aged 7 to 10.
The family’s lawyer Nomaan Husain said that the evidence clearly demonstrates that Boeing acted recklessly and with conscious disregard to the safety of its passengers.
“Boeing was aware of problems with the plane’s angle of attack, with the MCAS software, and we recently learned they were even aware of problems with the training software,” Husain told the press conference Tuesday.
“We asked the jury, after considering all of the evidence, after considering Boeing’s reckless and willful action in which it consciously disregarded the safety of its passengers, to award a minimum in the form of a punishment to Boeing of $276 million,” he said.
Explaining how he arrived at that sum, Husain added: “In 2018, Boeing grossed $101 billion. When you take that figure and divide it by 365, you arrive at the figure of $276 million.”
“Is one day’s worth of gross receipts by Boeing severe enough to deter future behavior? Or is it one week’s worth of wages, or one month, or one year? That’s going to be for the jury to decide.”
Dubois-Seex joins several lawsuits to have been filed against Boeing in the aftermath of the deadly crashes.
Benjamin Berteau and Saskya Vandoorne reported from Paris, while Eliza Mackintosh wrote from London. CNN’s Curt Devine also contributed to this report.