Beasley Allen’s Mike Andrews represents the family of Juliah Mwashi, a victim of the Boeing MAX Ethiopian Airlines crash, and worked with the Plaintiff’s Litigation Committee to negotiate a Boeing agreement in the ongoing 737 MAX litigation. The Boeing agreement includes that Boeing will admit responsibility for the crash and that the 737 MAX had an unsafe condition, and that it will not attempt to blame the pilots or Ethiopian Airlines for the crash. Additionally, Boeing agreed to apply U.S. damages law which is a significant milestone in this litigation. Andrews is a member of the firm’s Personal Injury & Product Liability Section who focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation and has led the firm’s efforts investigating the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes.
“From the beginning, our clients, Juliah’s daughters, have sought accountability and for Boeing to admit it failed to protect the girls’ mother, and this agreement does that,” Andrews said. “It has taken over two years, but the persistent and brave efforts of our clients and other victims’ families demanding accountability from Boeing has proved successful. I know Juliah would be proud of her family, especially her daughters.”
On March 10, 2019, Mwashi was on board the massive malfunctioning Boeing 737 MAX that plunged itself and the 157 people it was carrying 45 feet into the ground near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, at nearly 600 miles per hour. It was a tragedy that should never have happened, and if Boeing had acted on knowledge about a defect with its aircraft, specifically from information obtained after the first Boeing 737 MAX crash in October 2018, Mwashi likely would not have perished and would still be enjoying life with her daughters.
The agreement was filed with the U.S. District Court in Chicago. Although specific damage amounts have not been agreed upon, Boeing agreed to pay compensatory damages in exchange for the families agreeing not to pursue punitive damages.
Mwashi was a branch coordinator in charge of the Young Leaders and the Youth Exchange South to South (YESS) Girls Movement programs at the Kenyan Girl Guide Association. It is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The organization “support[s] girls and young women to develop their full potential as leaders and active citizens of the world through funded programs and leadership training.” Mwashi was a strong advocate in fostering the female leaders of the next generation. Like Mwashi, a number of other victims were also dedicated employees of other nonprofit organizations. They were on their way to a United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Sadly, Ms. Mwashi and the other 345 lives that were sacrificed on the two doomed Boeing MAX flights will never return home. This agreement is a significant milestone in the process for the families seeking justice and accountability,” Andrews said.
In January, Boeing signed a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to end the federal probe of the MAX’s development and certification processes. The agreement absolved company leadership from criminal charges. In exchange, Boeing agreed to pay $2.5 billion in fines and compensation for the tragedies that resulted from the defective aircraft it recklessly placed in commercial travel.