Additional wrongful death lawsuits in the crash of the Boeing 737-8 MAX, operated as Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, were filed in Chicago, IL, in the deaths of Virginia Chimenti, originally from Rome, Italy, and Ghislaine De Claremont, from Wallonia, Belgium. Chimenti and De Claremont were among the 157 people killed in the March 10, 2019 ET302 plane crash in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by the New York-based law firm Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, along with co-counsels Chicago-based Power Rogers & Smith L.L.P., Fabrizio Arossa of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP in Rome (on behalf of the family of Virginia Chimenti), and Jean-Michel Fobe of Sybarius Avocats, Brussels, Belgium (on behalf of the family of Ghislaine De Claremont). The defendants in the case are Chicago-based Boeing Company and Rosemount Aerospace, Inc. of Minnesota.
Two lawsuits were previously filed on May 2 on behalf of the family of Carlo Spini and his wife Gabriella Viciani, of the Arezzo Province of Italy, a physician and nurse who were en route to a humanitarian mission in Kenya.
Chimenti devoted her life to fighting world hunger, and at 26 years old, was a consultant for United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP). While pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Bocconi University in Milan, she began working for an NGO in Nairobi, Kenya that protects vulnerable children living in Dandora slums. She earned her master’s degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and began working at the UN’s Capital Development Fund and the Agricultural Development Fund, directing her work at facilitating sustainable models in breaking cycles of poverty and starvation. She is survived by her parents and sister.
Ghislaine De Claremont was a personal banker at ING Bank in Wallonia, Belgium. She was a single parent who raised two daughters, one of whom became a paraplegic after she, her sister and her mother were caught in the crossfire of a shootout between police and violent criminals in 1995, striking Melissa Mairesse, the younger daughter, in the center of her spinal cord at the age of 10. Melissa was left wheelchair-bound and Ghislaine De Claremont cared for and advocated for her daughter’s special needs. Melissa, and her older sister, Jessica Mairesse, organized an African safari trip as a 60th birthday present to their devoted mother. De Claremont was on this trip when she was killed aboard flight ET302.
Justin Green, a Kreindler & Kreindler LLP partner and a military-trained pilot, said, “Boeing told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the Boeing 737-8 MAX’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) could not cause a catastrophic event if it malfunctioned and the FAA permitted Boeing to review the safety of the system with little or no FAA oversight. But MCAS is a deadly defective system that has already caused two airline disasters. Boeing designed its MCAS to automatically push the airplane’s nose down toward the ground based on the information supplied by a single angle of attack sensor. Boeing designed the MCAS so that it did not consider whether the angle of attack information was accurate or even plausible and did not consider whether the altitude of the airplane was above the ground. Boeing designed the system so that it would repeatedly push the nose down and would fight against the efforts of pilots trying to save the airplane. Boeing’s MCAS design permitted the failure of a single angle of attack sensor to cause two aviation disasters and is the worst design in the history of modern commercial aviation.”
“We are seeking punitive damages because strong public policy in Illinois supports holding Boeing accountable for its intentional and grossly negligent conduct, in particular its refusal, even today, to admit that the grounded Boeing 737-8 MAX had any safety problems even while the plane is grounded and Boeing is being forced to finally fix the problem that has caused two aviation disasters in the short life of the airplane,” said Todd Smith, partner at Power Rogers & Smith L.L.P.
The complaint filed today on behalf of the victims’ family summarizes their claims, in part, as follows:
“Boeing failed to properly brief its own test pilots regarding important details regarding MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), including its authority to quickly push down the nose of Boeing 737-8 MAX, and, accordingly the test pilots did not perform an adequate safety review of the system.”
“Boeing sold the Boeing 737-8 MAX to airlines despite knowing that a safety feature, known as the angle of attack disagree light, designed to immediately inform pilots that one of the airplane’s angle of attack sensors had failed, was not working in the airplane.”
“Boeing put its financial interests ahead of the safety of passengers and flight crews when it rushed the design, manufacture and certification of the Boeing 737-8 MAX, and when it misrepresented to the public, the FAA, and Boeing’s customers that the airplane was safe to fly, which Boeing shockingly continued to do even after the crash of ET302.”
“As a new feature, the design and functioning of MCAS was required to be reviewed and approved by the FAA, but a meaningful review of MCAS was not completed during the compliance activities that preceded the certification of the Boeing 737-8 MAX and was not completed even after the crash of [Lion Air Flight] 610.”
Anthony Tarricone, also a partner of the Kreindler firm, said, “The case will focus, in part, on the intertwined relationship between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing, which allows Boeing engineers to act as designated FAA safety inspectors during the certification process. That the 737-8 MAX was certified as safe without the MCAS and its failure modes being subjected to rigorous testing and analysis illustrates that the FAA has been captured by the industry it is supposed to regulate. Industry lobbying focused on elevating corporate profits over passenger safety does not promote certification of safe airplanes.”