Boeing 737 MAX crash victim families ask judge to name corporate monitor

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is seen on the side of a Boeing 737 MAX at the Farnborough International Airshow

By David Shepardson and Mike Spector

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Family members of victims killed in two Boeing 737 MAX crashes on Monday asked a U.S. judge to name a corporate monitor to examine the planemaker's safety and corporate compliance procedures.

In a court filing, the family members asked U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor to impose the independent monitor saying "Boeing presents an ongoing threat to public safety."

Among the reasons the families cited were: the U.S. Justice Department's recent determination that Boeing breached a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement; the Jan. 5 mid-air emergency of a new Alaska Airlines MAX 9; and "an almost daily barrage of news reports about Boeing aircraft malfunctioning and internal whistleblowers disclosing Boeing’s regulatory violations."

O'Connor in February 2023 had declined to name a monitor saying there was no "factual record" to justify that Boeing presents "an ongoing threat to public safety".

Boeing and the Justice Department did not immediately comment.

Last month, the Justice Department said Boeing had failed to "design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations", violating the agreement that shielded the planemaker from criminal prosecution over fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

Boeing filed a response denying it violated the agreement.

The Justice Department must decide by July 7 whether to prosecute Boeing and it could seek to require a monitor as part of any settlement with the planemaker. A lawyer for the department said Friday in an email that no decision had been made on whether to prosecute Boeing.

O’Connor ruled in October 2022 that the 346 people killed in two Boeing 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 were legally “crime victims” and said the Justice Department had not complied with its victim notification obligations under the law.

The Justice Department in 2023 opposed naming a monitor saying it "would be duplicative to DOJ oversight and

counterproductive to the processes that are operative now."

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio)