Judge greenlights conspiracy claims against Boeing, Southwest over 737 Max

Posted on March 6, 2020 in Aviation

A Federal Judge has agreed that passengers who flew on since-grounded Boeing 737 Max planes can proceed with a proposed class action suit that accuses the aircraft manufacturer and Southwest Airlines of conspiring to hide the jets’ safety issues. Earl et al. v. Boeing Co. et al., No. 19-cv-507, 2020 WL 759385 (E.D. Tex. Feb. 14, 2020).

The plaintiffs have pleaded an economic injury by arguing that they paid inflated ticket prices as a result of the companies’ alleged cover-up. The judge dismissed the plaintiffs’ state law claims for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and negligence, saying they are related to the airline’s prices and thus preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act, 49 U.S.C.A. § 41713. The suit was prompted by the Oct. 29, 2018, crash of a 737 Max 8 operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air that killed 189 people and an Ethiopian Airlines crash March 10, 2019, that killed 157 people. Both crashes have been linked to flaws in a stall-prevention system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System.