Boeing 737 Max: Lawyer who shaped crisis response to retire – Business Insider
Michael Luttig, the Boeing lawyer who helped shape the company’s legal response to the 737 Max crisis will retire at the end of 2019, the company said Thursday.
Luttig was in charge of the company’s approach to “legal matters associated with the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents,” according to a statement from Boeing released Thursday.
Boeing’s handling of legal elements of the 737 Max crisis has been subject to sharp criticism, including from Congress.
Luttig’s retirement comes just three days after CEO Dennis Muilenburg was unceremoniously fired by Boeing.
“We are deeply indebted to Judge Luttig for his extraordinary service to Boeing over these nearly 14 years, especially through this past, challenging year for our company,” Boeing’s interim CEO Greg Smith said.
The first, involving a Lion Air flight in Indonesia, killed 189 people in October 2018, while a second, involving an Ethiopian Airlines plane, occurred in March 2019, killing 157 people.
Boeing’s handling of legal matters around the two 737 Max crashes has come in for sharp criticism, with families of victims slamming the aviation giant for its previous decision to try and move cases brought against the company over the Lion Air crash to Indonesia in what experts have claimed is an attempt to avoid the scrutiny of the US legal system.
Rep. Henry Johnson questioned Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg about the company’s stated intention to try and move the cases from the first crash outside of the US to Indonesia — where the crash occurred — at a meeting of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Wednesday.
In response, Muilenburg said: “Congressman, I can’t comment on that. I’m just not familiar with the details of that.”
Peter DeFazio, the chair of the committee, hammered Muilenburg, questioning how, as CEO of the company, he could not be aware of the company’s legal strategy in dealing with the two 737 Max crashes, which killed 346 people.
DeFazio then pointed to a Business Insider story from June, in which multiple lawyers representing victims’ families said they were preparing to fight efforts by Boeing, and in which multiple experts said moving the cases would make them “worthless” for the families and put Boeing under less scrutiny.
The 737 Max has been grounded around the world since March, and does not yet have a set date for its return to service. Boeing had initially said it wanted the plane flying again after six weeks, but increased scrutiny from regulators has consistently pushed that deadline back. Some airlines now expect the 737 Max to be grounded until June 2020.