In 2019, a Boeing 737 crashed near Addis Ababa. It crashed six minutes after takeoff. Today, the families of the crash victims and Boeing lawyers are questioning whether the victims suffered before their deaths or not.

Investigators at the crash site of a Boeing 737 Max near Addis Ababa.  March 12, 2019

On March 11, 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max flying from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed. There were 149 passengers and eight crew on board, all of whom died. The cause of the disaster was the shortcomings in the operation of the maneuvering performance enhancement system (MCAS), which should imperceptibly correct the actions of the pilot when controlling the aircraft. The same problem led to the crash of Lion Air’s Boeing 737 Max a few months earlier.

In November 2021, Boeing and lawyers for relatives of those killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash hit an agreement that will settle claims against the company. Boeing has agreed to accept responsibility for the plane crash and has pledged to pay compensation to the families of the victims. In response, they should not seek punitive damages against Boeing in court.

But how writing The Wall Street Journal, one question remains unanswered. Lawyers for the families of the victims and the aircraft manufacturer are arguing over whether the company should pay for the suffering suffered by the victims before their deaths. Boeing is seeking to withdraw this element from the lawsuit. Lawyers for the company say the crash victims died instantly when the plane crashed into the ground. In their opinion, the pain and suffering that the victims of the accident may have felt before the crash of the liner are not legally taken into account in the calculation of damages.

Boeing’s lawyers said that in the absence of sufficient evidence that the victims suffered before they died, the law of the state of Illinois, where the company was headquartered at the time, does not allow damages. -interests related only to the grief and loss of loved ones, but not to the suffering of the victims.

“Boeing is aware of the enormous tragedy that has befallen the families [погибших]. But Illinois laws provide that proof of passenger pain and suffering before a collision [самолета с землей] cannot be accepted as justification for compensation for damages,” lawyers for the company said in a statement to the court. A company spokesperson said Boeing deeply sympathizes with all those who lost loved ones in the accident, and recalled that the aircraft manufacturer “is committed to fully and fairly compensating each family who suffered loss”.

According to interlocutors of the Wall Street Journal familiar with the course of the trial, there is talk of potential compensation in the amount of several million dollars for each plaintiff. According to court documents, Boeing argues that evidence of victims’ suffering will affect and embarrass jurors, likely leading to plaintiffs being awarded an amount equivalent to possible punitive damages – which the families of the victims had previously agreed not to claim.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys, in turn, argue that Boeing’s position violates Illinois law and their previous agreement with Boeing. According to them, the 157 people on board “undoubtedly experienced emotional stress, pain, suffering and injury, and at the same time withstood extreme Gs, prepared for a collision, knew that the The plane was malfunctioning, and would fall to the ground at an alarming rate.

To resolve the dispute, the parties hired experts who looked at various physical and psychological issues, including whether the victims knew they were going to die, whether the seat belts could hurt them when the liner crashed, and more. Plaintiffs’ expert Troy Faaborg said the victims likely felt panic and nausea, they may have developed heart problems, and they may have felt like their eyes “came out of their orbits”.

Boeing calls these claims speculative. Company expert Jonathan French said passengers were “definitely scared”, but “people tend to hold on to hope and not expect the worst”. “Ultimately, it’s impossible to understand each person’s subjective experience,” he concluded.

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