Aircraft giant Boeing agreed on Sept. 22, 2022, to pay a hefty $200 million in fines for misleading the public about the safety of its 737 MAX aircraft that crashed twice, leaving 346 people dead in 2018 and 2019.
The corporation’s fired CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, also agreed to pay fines set by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that stated Boeing and Muilenburg knew that part of the plane’s flight control system was flawed and posed an ongoing safety concern yet told the public that the 737 MAX was safe to fly. The crashes led to the plane being grounded around the world for some 20 months, one of the longest groundings in aviation history.
Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices who also serves as Lead Counsel in the pending litigation in federal district court in Chicago against Boeing in the second crash that took 157 lives, said in reaction to today’s news, “Muilenburg or anyone else who persuaded the government to keep the MAX 737 Boeing flying should be fully investigated for conduct that could be criminal in nature.” Clifford added, “That includes the government examining all communications made between parties at the corporation or to anyone outside of Boeing.”
It is reported that Boeing and Muilenburg agreed to settle charges of violating the antifraud provisions of U.S. securities laws, but they did not admit or deny the SEC’s allegations. Boeing agreed to pay a $200 million settlement, and Muilenburg agreed to pay $1 million. “Muilenburg’s $1 million payment is an insult to the families and this tokenism is reprehensible, particularly in light of the $62 million golden parachute he reportedly received upon being fired following the company’s actions,” Clifford said.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement, “In times of crisis and tragedy, it is especially important that public companies and executives provide full, fair, and truthful disclosures to the markets. The Boeing Company and its former CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, failed in this most basic obligation. They misled investors by providing assurances about the safety of the 737 MAX, despite knowing about serious safety concerns.”
Clifford Law Offices represents 70 people aboard the March 2019 crash just after takeoff in Ethiopia. The lawsuits claim that Boeing put profits over safety and deceived the public and the government when seeking a quick certification of the aircraft.