An attendee gestures near the model of a Boeing Co. 737 Max 7 jetliner during the opening of the Boeing factory in Sheffield, U.K. (Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg)

Boeing Accused of Negligence in New Suits by Victims' Families

(Bloomberg) -- Boeing Co. was sued Monday by two Canadians who lost 10 family members in the March crash of a 737 Max in Ethiopia, adding to the aircraft manufacturer’s legal woes stemming from two deadly crashes by the jet.

Among the 157 people who died when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed minutes after takeoff on March 10 were plaintiff Manant Vaidya’s mother, father, sister, brother-in-law and two nieces. Also on the doomed flight were the wife and three children of Paul Njoroge, the other plaintiff.

The series of complaints, filed in a federal court in Chicago, allege that Boeing was negligent in its design and certification of the 737 Max, including a system on the jet that automatically pushes the aircraft’s nose down when sensor data indicate the plane is approaching a stall.

Boeing Accused of Negligence in New Suits by Victims' Families

The Ethiopian Airlines crash and the October crash of a Lion Air 737 Max off the coast of Indonesia have been linked to the jet’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which automatically pushes down the aircraft’s nose to help prevent a stall. In both crashes, pilots struggled to keep the plane aloft after the system was activated by erroneous sensor data and ultimately pushed the planes into a fatal dive.

“If they deny their negligence, we are going to seek every single email, text message between them and the FAA,” Robert Clifford, attorney for Njoroge and Vaidya, told reporters in Chicago on Monday.

Boeing declined to comment directly on the lawsuit, Peter P. Pedraza, a Boeing spokesman, said in an email.

“Boeing extends our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those onboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302,” Pedraza said. “As the investigation continues, Boeing is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities.”

The lawsuits add to Boeing’s legal woes after the two crashes, including a lawsuit filed in late March on behalf of a Rwandan passenger who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Prosecutors, lawmakers and the U.S. Transportation Department’s internal watchdog are also leading probes into the jet.

Among the cases are Vaidya v. Boeing Co., 19-cv-02839, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), and Njoroge v. Boeing Co., 19-cv-02843, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago)

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