RELIEF

Boeing compensates Kenyan families in Ethiopian Airlines crash

32 Kenyans died in the March 10, 2019 crash that killed all 149 people on board.

In Summary

•The Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, killing all 149 on board.

•Manuel von Ribbeck, Ribbeck Law Chartered Founding Partner, has been seeking reasonable and fair compensation in the courts in Chicago for the families of the victims.

L-R:Ribbeck Law Chartered Founding Partner Manuel von Ribbeck , Igeria & Ngugi Advocates Head of Litigation David Njoroge and Global Managing Director of Ribbeck Law Chartered’s Air Disasters Global Insurance Claims Deon Botha. Ribbeck Law Chartered is representing most of the victims of Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes against Boeing/COURTESY
L-R:Ribbeck Law Chartered Founding Partner Manuel von Ribbeck , Igeria & Ngugi Advocates Head of Litigation David Njoroge and Global Managing Director of Ribbeck Law Chartered’s Air Disasters Global Insurance Claims Deon Botha. Ribbeck Law Chartered is representing most of the victims of Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes against Boeing/COURTESY

US aircraft maker–Boeing has made a record-breaking settlement payment for the Kenyan families of victims of the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash.

This is the first Ethiopian Air Flight 302 case to be settled from dozens of lawsuits filed in a US Federal Court in Chicago against Boeing by Ribbeck Law Chartered on behalf of victims’ families in the aftermath of two fatal crashes involving the same Boeing 737 Max 8 model plane.

Manuel von Ribbeck, Ribbeck Law Chartered Founding Partner, has been seeking reasonable and fair compensation in the courts in Chicago for the families of the victims.

32  Kenyans were killed in the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines that crashed on March 10, 2019 near the town of Bishoftu, six minutes after takeoff.

In an official statement made in Chicago on Monday, von Ribbeck said: “We sought and asked for the largest amount possible to be paid as compensation to the families we represent.”

This settlement is believed to be a record-breaking multi-million US dollar amount given the estimates by Bloomberg Business, that Boeing was to pay $1 billion (about Sh111.5billion) for the victims of the crash of Lion Air JT610 and Ethiopian Airlines ET302.

The Ethiopian Airlines jet headed for Nairobi crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, killing all 149 on board.

Other nationalities killed in the crash included 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese, eight Americans, seven Britons, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Germans, four Indians and four people from Slovakia.

At least 30 nationalities were on board with Kenya having the largest number of citizens on board.

Another plane of the same model was involved in a crash less than five months earlier, when a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea near Indonesia with nearly 190 people on board.

The final report on the Boeing 737 MAX, released in September by a legislative committee in the United States, found “repeated and serious failures” by Boeing and identified the key factors that contributed to the Boeing 737 MAX crash, including design flaws, profit and production priorities at the expense of safety.

“We believe Boeing should pay a fair and reasonable amount to all families regardless as to where they are from. We are hopeful that Boeing will change the way they operate to avoid losing innocent lives again,” commented Deon Botha of Ribbeck Law Chartered.

The report laid out disturbing revelations about how Boeing—under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits for Wall Street—escaped scrutiny from the FAA, withheld critical information from pilots, and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people in the two crashes.

Ribbeck Law Chartered, which represents the majority of families of the victims of the deadly Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes demanded more than a billion US Dollars for the families.

The settlement payments achieved by Ribbeck Law Chartered on behalf of the first Kenyan victim’s family has spared the family years of litigation.

“It is important to note however that no amount of money in the world will bring our clients’ beloved family members back.  Our clients sought to find the truth behind the causes of the crash and jail those responsible for killing their relatives,” von Ribbeck stated.

The few of Ribbeck Law Chartered’s remaining cases from the Boeing 737 Max 8 crash of Lion Air Flight 610 that have not reached settlement will be tried in the USA or Indonesia. 

If tried in Indonesia, a criminal case against Boeing’s officers and its board of directors will be filed, according to the law firm.

Most of the current payments will be made by Boeing's insurance and reinsurance companies and as stated by Wall Street firms.

“The Boeing company should not be greatly affected by it. They can afford that cost. Boeing has posted record revenues of $101 billion last year and $10.6 billion in profits,” von Ribbeck said, on the impact of paying one billion dollars in compensation by the company.

In addition, Boeing has established a fund to help the communities of the families affected by the crashes.

Ribbeck Law’s clients received grant funds from Boeing to improve their communities.

One such example is a project initiated at the request of a Kenyan family.

“The project will bring water and solar energy to their community,” stated Monica Kelly of Ribbeck Law Chartered.It was a group effort with the Kenyan family we represent and Mr. David Njoroge, Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution at Igeria & Ngugi Advocates."

Ribbeck Law Chartered’s clients will also use the approved grant to renovate and add classrooms, restrooms and a community hall for their local high school and church.

 Njoroge said: “Our partnership allowed us to finalize the mediation process in record time, achieving a fair and reasonable settlement in only 18 months. The loss of our clients' kin, unfortunately, can never be reversed, but we are confident that the family will be able to live a comfortable life moving forward."

Ribbeck Law Chartered  believes Boeing has acted fairly when compensating the families.

Meanwhile, Boeing has been changing the way it operates and is trying to make its 737 Boeing Max 8 model safer.

"We believe that justice has been done in this case. It is time for forgiveness and to look to the future,”Kelly said.

L-R:Ribbeck Law Chartered Founding Partner Manuel von Ribbeck , Igeria & Ngugi Advocates Head of Litigation David Njoroge and Global Managing Director of Ribbeck Law Chartered’s Air Disasters Global Insurance Claims Deon Botha. Ribbeck Law Chartered is representing most of the victims of Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes against Boeing/COURTESY
L-R:Ribbeck Law Chartered Founding Partner Manuel von Ribbeck , Igeria & Ngugi Advocates Head of Litigation David Njoroge and Global Managing Director of Ribbeck Law Chartered’s Air Disasters Global Insurance Claims Deon Botha. Ribbeck Law Chartered is representing most of the victims of Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes against Boeing/COURTESY