The family of Jackson Musoni, a Rwandese national, who lost his life in the Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month, has sued Boeing alleging that it defectively designed the automated flight control system.
The lawsuit was filed in Chicago federal court by Musoni’s three children, in what appears to be the first suit over the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash that killed 157 people.
The 737 MAX planes were grounded worldwide following the disaster, which came just five months after a Lion Air plane crashed off the Indonesian coast killing all 189 people on board, involving the same plane model.
Boeing had earlier said it had reprogrammed software on its 737 MAX to prevent erroneous data from triggering an anti-stall system. However, a team probing the crash reached a preliminary conclusion that a suspect anti-stall system activated shortly before the crash.
According to the Wall Street Journal, if confirmed, the findings would suggest that the automated flight software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was installed in both planes could be to blame in the two incidents.
The Ethiopian Airlines crash raised the chances that families of the victims, even non-US residents, will be able to sue in US courts, where payouts are much larger than in other countries.
Musoni’s children claim that Boeing failed to warn the public, airlines and pilots of the plane’s allegedly erroneous sensors, causing the aircraft to dive automatically and uncontrollably.
Boeing said it could not comment on the lawsuit.
“Boeing is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available,” it said, adding all inquiries about the ongoing accident investigation must be directed to the investigating authorities.