LOT Polish Airlines has requested US District Judge Reed O’Connor declare them as “crime victims” in the Boeing 737 MAX criminal case.
The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in for 20 months starting in March 2019 following two fatal accidents involving the aircraft in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
LOT Polish Airlines has argued that this 20-month grounding has caused the airline at least $250 million in damages, in relation to the fourteen 737 MAX aircraft owned by the airline at the time of grounding.
If Justice O’Connor approves this claim, LOT Polish Airlines and all other airlines affected by the 737 MAX grounding will be entitled to millions of dollars in compensation.
Last week, Justice O’Connor ruled that the 346 people killed in the tragic 2018 and 2019 737 MAX crashes would be identified legally as “crime victims”, with the compensation that will be delivered to their families to be determined accordingly.
LOT Polish Airlines believes they should also be entitled to legal compensation alongside the victims’ families.
In 2021, Boeing faced a fraud conspiracy charge related to the 737 MAX’s flawed design. The investigation allegedly found evidence of discussions by Boeing company executives to cover up the design flaws.
The Justice Department reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing in relation to the fraud conspiracy charge. Fines of $243.6 million were handed out to Boeing, as well as compensation of $1.77 billion for the airlines affected and the establishment of a $500 million fund for the victims’ families in the settlement.
The $1.77 billion compensation to the airlines was not made available to non-US airlines.
Some of the victim’s families argued that the Justice Department violated their rights when entering into the agreement with Boeing and asked Justice O’Connor to revoke Boeing’s criminal prosecution immunity.
LOT Polish Airlines has also asked the court to reopen the deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing to “increase the amount that Boeing is required to pay its customers.”
Last year, the airline directly approached Boeing about receiving the aforementioned compensation, however, Boeing denied this request. LOT proceeded to sue Boeing for the payment. Currently, the ruling of this case is still pending.
The US Department of Justice has asked Justice O’Connor to wait until 11 November to release the statement about the official ruling.