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Relatives of people killed in 2 Boeing Max crashes ask the US to fine the company $24.8 billion

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Families of some of the people who died in two Boeing 737 Max crashes are asking federal officials to fine Boeing $24.8 billion and move quickly to prosecute the company on a criminal charge that was set aside three years ago.

A lawyer for the families said in a letter Wednesday to the Justice Department that a large fine is justified “because Boeing’s crime is the deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history.”

The lawyer, Paul Cassell, also wrote that the government should prosecute officials who were leading Boeing at the time of the crashes in 2018 and 2019, including then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg. In all, 346 people were killed in the crashes.

The first crash occurred when a Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea in October 2018 — and the second in March 2019, when an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed nearly straight down into a field six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

The push by the families comes as the Justice Department considers whether to revive a dormant criminal charge of fraud against Boeing. Last month, prosecutors determined that the company violated a 2021 settlement that protected the company from being prosecuted for allegedly misleading regulators who approved the Max.

The Justice Department has until July 7 to tell a federal judge in Texas whether it will revive the case. During a hearing Tuesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said there is “mounting evidence” that the company should be prosecuted.

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company previously has said it met its obligations under the 2021 settlement.

The Justice Department opened an investigation into Boeing after a door plug blew off a 737 Max during an Alaska Airlines flight in January. That incident led to increased scrutiny of the company and outgoing CEO David Calhoun, who defended Boeing’s safety record during Tuesday’s Senate hearing.

AP

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