On December 16, 2021, families of those who lost their lives in the two MAX 8 crashes protested to the U.S. Justice Department that despite a massive $2.5 billion settlement, Boeing had not been punished enough for their calculated exchange of human lives for profit. The families argued that Boeing had “lied and violated [the families’] rights through a secret process,” when Boeing agreed in a January 2020 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice that it would be immune from prosecution because of the crashes. In that settlement, Boeing was permitted to dodge prosecution by payment of a total of $2.5 billion, which included a $243.6 million fine levied by the Justice Department, compensation to airlines for Boeing’s deceptive practices in the amount of $1.77 billion, and a $500 million crash-victim fund related to allegations of fraud and deceptive practices linked to the plane’s design.

These penalties were agreed to as a part of a deferred prosecution arrangement, akin to those many may commonly experience at traffic court—with fines adjusted to Boeing’s level of callous wrongdoing. After a lengthy 21-month investigation into the design and development of the 737 MAX 8, the Justice Department declared that the digging had “exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers.”

Given this strong indictment, the families of those lost protest that punishment does not square with the Justice Department’s apparent level of verbal condemnation. The anguished families aren’t isolated in their rationale—recently, the U.S. House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio remarked that the “settlement amounts to a slap on the wrist and is an insult to the 346 victims who died as a result of corporate greed.” Disturbingly, the approximate $250 million fine, which the Justice Department has conceded represents a “low end” fine, merely represents the amount of R&D costs Boeing forewent by not implementing full-flight simulator training—which would have saved 346 lives.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, please contact the office Ben Agosto III at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211 or toll-free at 1-800-594-4884.