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U.S. Said to Seek Boeing Guilty Plea to Avoid Trial in 737 Max Crashes

The Justice Department plans to allow Boeing to avoid a criminal trial if it agrees to plead guilty to a fraud charge stemming from two fatal crashes of its 737 Max more than five years ago, according to two lawyers for families of the crash victims.

Federal officials shared details of the offer on a call with the families on Sunday afternoon before bringing the deal to Boeing, according to the lawyers, Paul G. Cassell and Mark Lindquist.

The terms include a nearly $244 million fine, a new investment in safety improvements, three years of scrutiny from an external monitor, and a meeting between Boeing’s board and the victims’ families, said Mr. Cassell, a University of Utah law professor.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Boeing declined to comment.

Mr. Cassell, who represents more than a dozen of the families, said that he and the families found the deal to be “outrageous” and that it fell far short of what they had sought. He described the offer as a “sweetheart plea deal” because it would not force Boeing to admit fault in the deaths of the 346 people who died in the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in late 2018 and early 2019.

“The families will strenuously object to this plea deal,” Mr. Cassell said in a statement. “The memory of 346 innocents killed by Boeing demands more justice than this.”

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Last modified: 4 July 2024
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