Interviews of 37 relatives of the victims or their representatives of Ethiopia crash with a leading international news agency has found that 31 of them complained of inappropriate incidents by those saying or hiding that they represented US law firms. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft crash occurred in Ethiopia on March 10, 2019, and shook the company's image and has since been followed by the media. The recent testimonies by the families of the victims of the crash claim that strangers began calling or visiting them. These individuals were found in funerals and memorial services and also stopped by unannounced at the doorstep of several families. As per reports, in one instance a grieving husband was offered money for an appointment. Likewise, another anonymous woman offered to counsel and another said she was creating an emotional support group, without disclosing they were working for lawyers.
Legal ethics experts cite that the behaviour may have been illegal or unethical under US laws and rules barring solicitation and deceptive practices. As per reports, six of the firms were particularly aggressive in courting prospective clients: Ribbeck Law Chartered and Global Aviation Law Group (GALG) of Chicago; The Witherspoon Law Group and Ramji Law Group from Texas; and Wheeler & Franks Law Firm PC and Eaves Law Firm of Mississippi. When the news agency asked the firms about their involvement, Witherspoon, Wheeler, and Eaves denied any wrongdoing and Ribbeck, GALG and Ramji did not respond to requests for comment. Meanwhile, Ribbeck Law and GALG have jointly filed two lawsuits against Boeing seeking “all damages available under the law”. Three suits were also filed by Ramji and have been dismissed.
A total of 114 cases have been filed against Boeing in Chicago federal court on behalf of 112 crash victims, according to lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Robert Clifford. Over three dozen law firms are representing them, he added.
The news agency also tried to contact Boeing for its comments on the lawsuit which the company averted. Meanwhile, Boeing defends its stand like it has been doing since the crash. The company said in a statement to the media that it is “cooperating fully with investigating authorities” and stated that safety is its highest priority. The company months ago publicly acknowledged errors in failing to give pilots more information on 737 MAX software involved in a Lion Air crash that killed 189 in Indonesia in October 2018 and the Ethiopian crash five months later. Boeing 737 MAX remains grounded to date.