French widow sues Boeing for at least $389m over Ethiopian crash

Britt-Marie Seex (centre) gestures as she addresses a press conference with Nadege Dubois-Seex in Paris on May 21, 2019, alongside a portrait of the late Jonathan Seex. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - A French woman whose husband died in the crash of a Boeing 737 Max airliner in Ethiopia has filed a US lawsuit against the planemaker, seeking at least US$276 million (S$389 million) in damages.

The crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in March killed all 157 passengers and crew aboard and followed the death in October of 189 people on a Lion Air 737 Max which plunged into the ocean off Indonesia in similar circumstances.

Dozens of families have sued Boeing over the Lion Air crash, and several lawsuits have been lodged over the Ethiopian crash near the capital Addis Ababa, which led airlines around the world to ground the Boeing 737 Max.

The lawsuit on behalf of Nadege Dubois-Seex, whose husband Jonathan Seex was a Swedish and Kenyan citizen and chief executive of the Tamarind Group of Companies, was filed in a US District Court in Chicago, her lawyer said on Tuesday (May 21).

The complaint, which was filed on Monday, alleges Boeing failed to inform pilots properly about the risks posed by software meant to prevent the 737 Max from stalling which repeatedly lowered the plane's nose due to a faulty sensor data.

US attorney Nomaan Husain told a Paris news conference his client was seeking a minimum of US$276 million in damages.

"We have learned that Boeing relied on a single sensor that had been previously flagged in over 200 incident reports submitted to the FAA (US Federal Aviation Administration),"Husain said in a statement.

Two Boeing spokeswomen in Europe did not reply to messages seeking comment, while a Boeing spokesman in the United States did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

"Our family has lost its shining knight and the world has lost a brilliant entrepreneur," Dubois-Seex, a French citizen, said in a statement.

Boeing said last week it had completed an update to the 737 Max's MCAS software and was in the process of submitting a plan for related pilot training to the FAA.

It is unclear when the 737 Max aircraft will receive FAA approval to return to service. Safety regulators in other countries have said they plan to independently assess Boeing's fixes before giving their approval.

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