Families of Boeing 737 MAX crashes to confront the firm

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Families of Boeing 737 MAX crashes to confront the firm

NEW YORK - Relatives of passengers who died in the twin Boeing 737 MAX crashes are scheduled to confront the airline maker on January 26 in a US court, about four years after the tragedies in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

The proceeding in Fort Worth, Texas, long sought by the families, is expected to include Boeing's entry of a guilty or not guilty plea in a US criminal settlement over the calamities that claimed 346 lives.

The families have already chalked up some wins from US District Judge Reed O'Connor, who ordered a Boeing representative to appear at Thursday's arraignment after ruling in October that the Department of Justice's DPA with Boeing was negotiated in violation of the families' rights.

The DPA, which required Boeing to pay US $2.5 billion in fines and restitution in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution for charges Boeing defrauded the government during the certification of the MAX, was one of the stepping stones to the families' ultimate ambition in the case.

The families of Boeing and its top executives plan to ask the court to set up an independent monitor because the Justice Department can't be trusted to monitor Boeing in a brief, so they argue that Boeing and its top executives deserve no such relief.

This is a case in which 346 people died, attorney Paul Cassell told AFP. Boeing hasn't commented on the case outside legal briefs, but Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told CNBC on Wednesday that he felt nothing but heartbreak for the families and supported their right to a hearing.

That's not a subject I'm qualified to talk about, because of the legal proceeding itself, Calhoun said.