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Lawsuit Filed by Family of 737 Crash Victim

Boeing airplane

A lawsuit has been filed by the family of one of the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that occurred on March 10, 2019.

It was the first of what is expected to be numerous suits to be filed after all passengers on the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 plane were killed. The flight held 149 passengers and the crew and was headed to Nairobi, Kenya.

The family of 24-year-old Samyo Stumo, who happens to be the niece of consumer advocate Ralph Nader, was filed in a US District Court in Chicago. The suit names both the airline and the plane’s manufacturer as defendants, as well as Rosemount Aerospace Inc., the company that made the flight control system in the plan. 

According to Stumo’s family attorney Robert Clifford, the crash was entirely preventable. Clifford accused Boeing and other companies involved in the manufacturing of the planes of taking “shortcuts” and operating out of greed. He also accused them of having an “utter disregard” for the safety of the passengers.

Anti-stall System Activated in Error

Reports made public after the crash show that the plane crashed shortly after takeoff and that pilots had repeatedly tried to perform emergency procedures but were unable “to control the aircraft.”

According to sources familiar with the investigation, the flight suffered a damaged angle-of-attack sensor upon takeoff which they speculate was caused by a bird or foreign object. This triggered erroneous data and the activation of the anti-stall system, which then sent the pitch of the plane downward and into the ground.

Reportedly, pilots did not try to electronically pull the nose of the plane up before implementing Boeing’s emergency procedures of disengaging power to the horizontal stabilizer on the rear of the aircraft. The pilots restored power to the horizontal stabilizer but it was too late to prevent the crash.

Preliminary findings from the Ethiopian Transport Minister showed the aircraft had a valid certificate of airworthiness and was being operated by licensed and qualified pilots. All indications were that the takeoff had been “very normal.” The flight crashed amid clear weather conditions six minutes after takeoff.

There has been no evidence found to date that any object was on board that could have caused the crash.

Though no official specific conclusions have been drawn, at the moment investigators speculate the issue could be related to the aircraft flight control system in the 737 Max 8 model – the part of the plane made by Rosemount Aerospace Inc.

Boeing 737 Planes Grounded

Following the crash, US President Donald Trump announced the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 plans in the United States. That order came after several other countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and several Asian countries had already done the same.

This was the second crash in very recent history involving Boeing 73 Max 8 planes. Less than five months ago a Lion Air plan of the same make crashed minutes after takeoff in Indonesia resulting in the deaths of all 189 people aboard.

The cause of that crash remains under investigation, but cockpit data recorder information recovered after the crash showed that the airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on previous flights.

Frank Pitre, a second lawyer for the Stumo family, said the crash exposes “a symptom of a larger epidemic” within regulatory agencies and pointed out the agencies lack the resources needed to adequately enforce compliance with safety regulations.

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