Wrongful Death Lawsuit and FAA Claim Filed on Behalf of Young American Woman Killed in Boeing 737 MAX 8 Crash in Ethiopia

April 4, 2019

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy of San Francisco and Clifford Law Offices of Chicago, internationally recognized aviation firms, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of a 24-year-old woman and U.S. citizen who was killed in the tragic crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max8 aircraft March 10. 

The detailed complaint was filed in federal district court in Chicago against Boeing, manufacturer of the plane, based in Chicago, Rosemount Aerospace, Inc. of Delaware that manufactured the allegedly defective part, and Ethiopian Airlines.

A separate claim was also filed against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on behalf of the family. According to press reports, a grand jury has been convened by U.S. Prosecutors to provide information related to the certification of the 737 MAX8. The grand jury is scheduled to meet on April 12 in Washington, D.C.

The nine-count federal complaint was filed on behalf of the family of Samya Stumo, originally from Sheffield Massachusetts, who was on a trip for her job with the Washington, D.C. health systems development organization, ThinkWell.  Stumo is the daughter of Michael Stumo and Nadia Milleron, both attorneys, and the niece of consumer activist Ralph Nader.  It is the first lawsuit filed on behalf of an American citizen involving this tragic crash.

Samya, 24, is described as a beautiful, energetic and loving person.  As her mother, Nadia Milleron stated, “Samya was a light-hearted person who brushed past negative inconsequential comments and focused on what is good and what could get done. She was a binding force in our family, among her friends, in her undergraduate and graduate academic departments.” 

“This crash should never have happened as we have said from the very first day,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago..  “The shortcuts and greed of Boeing and others will be proven in the ensuing lawsuits as well as the utter disregard of the passengers they were to protect that could have avoided this tragic crash.”

Frank Pitre, from Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, said “This case is a symptom of a larger epidemic where regulatory agencies lack the resources to carry out their obligations, leaving compliance with safety regulations to the whims of corporate executives eager to circumvent safety standards in order to gain a competitive advantage. Simply put, the watchdog can’t do his job, so he just gives the fox the keys to the henhouse to count eggs.”  

The complaint alleges negligence as well as breach of warranty, strict liability, failure to warn and civil conspiracy.  The complaint states that “Blinded by its greed, Boeing haphazardly rushed the 737 MAX8 to market, with the knowledge and tacit approval of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).”  It goes on to state of “Boeing’s decision to put profits over safety” … “and the regulators that enabled it, must be held accountable for their reckless actions.”

As the Boeing Max8 and 9 fleets remain grounded throughout the world, it is now left to the legal system to sort out what really happened, as experts continue to examine the black boxes and other evidence that led to the sudden crash of Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302, less than five months after a similar crash of a Boeing Max8 aircraft in Indonesia that plunged into the sea killing all 189 aboard.

Officials are targeting a suspect automated flight-control system called MCAS that activated before the planes nosed-dived into the earth.  Pilots in the cockpits were unable to override the system.  Congressional hearings last week pointed out further possible connections between the crash of the Ethiopian Max8 and that of Lion Air Flight 610, another new Max8 that crashed into the Java Sea off of Indonesia less than five months earlier.

Joe Cotchett, one of the lawyers on the case, stated “The tragedy of the hundreds of lives lost in two 737 Max crashes is just one more example of corporate America running over government regulators, such as the FAA.  It is a revolving door of influence, money and power over safety for passengers.”

Preliminary reports indicate that the Lion Air pilot was trying to read the airline manual as the plane jerked uncontrollably after takeoff as the co-pilot prayed.  The flight manual, though, contained no information on how to control the plane for this type of malfunction.

A press conference was held Thursday, April 4th at 120 N. Lasalle St., 11TH Floor.  Attorneys for the family were present as well as Samya's parents and her brother, Adnaan.

Complaints filed against the defendants as well as statements by family members, photos and exhibits also can be found at cliffordlaw.com/ethiopian-press-conference

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