Boeing CEO asked to testify in crash litigation, lawmakers demand FAA release records

(Reuters) – Relatives of victims of a Boeing Co 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that occurred five months after an Indonesian Lion Air disaster are stepping up pressure on the American planemaker and the federal government, according to a court filing and a letter to U.S. lawmakers.

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Families have called for testimony from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor and other current and former employees as part of their legal case in Chicago, court documents show.

Separately, the families urged lawmakers in letter to demand that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration turn over internal emails and documents spanning the Lion Air crash and one month after the Ethiopian crash. Together, 346 people died.

The letter was sent to members of the House and Senate transportation committees on Friday, including committee head Representative Peter DeFazio and aviation subcommittee chair Representative Rick Larsen.

A Congressional official said: “I can confirm that this week Chairs DeFazio and Larsen re-upped their request to DOT (Department of Transportation) for FAA records that have gone unfulfilled to date.”

A Senate report in December detailed lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA. It found that FAA leaders obstructed that report as well as a DOT watchdog review of the regulator’s oversight, the results of which were released on Wednesday.

“There is serious unfinished business,” the families said in the letter, reviewed by Reuters.

Boeing has mostly settled civil litigation stemming from the Lion Air crash, but still faces over 100 lawsuits in Chicago federal court related to the second crash.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers are focusing on what Boeing knew about the causes of the first crash and why the plane continued to fly. They want to schedule depositions of Calhoun and Muilenburg between May 3 and June 18.

Those victims’ families also want to know what FAA management, which in November lifted a 20-month safety ban of the MAX, understood about the first crash.

Boeing’s board faces a separate investor lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court, where a complaint unsealed this month alleged breach of fiduciary duties and gross negligence by failing “to monitor the safety of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes.”

Last month, Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department over the 737 MAX crashes, including a $243.6 million fine.

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