Business Insider Edition

A man who lost his entire family in a 737 Max crash says that Boeing is 'playing games' with its fund for the victims

David Slotnick , Business Insider US
 Jul 20, 2019, 09:03 AM
Paul Njoroge with his wife, Carolyne, his 6-year-old son, Ryan, his 4-year-old daughter, Kelli, his 9-month-old daughter, Rubi, and his mother-in-law, Ann.
Clifford Law Offices
  • Boeing announced that it hired the attorney Kenneth Feinberg to manage distributions of the first $50 million (R696 million) of a $100 million (R1.4 billion) fund set aside for families of people killed in the two Boeing 737 Max crashes.
  • Paul Njoroge, who lost his three children, his wife, and his mother-in-law in the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max crash in March, told Business Insider that he feels the fund is just a PR move by Boeing.
  • He testified in front of Congress on Wednesday and asked for Boeing to be held accountable for the crashes.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Boeing announced on Wednesday that it was set to begin distributing the first $50 million (R696 million) of a $100 million (R1.4 billion) fund it created for families of victims of the two 737 Max crashes.

However, some of those family members found the announcement, and the fund itself, to be a poor effort to distract from Boeing's culpability in the crashes.

"Boeing is just trying to play some games in people's minds, just like they played games with people's lives," Paul Njoroge, who lost his three children, wife, and mother-in-law in the second crash, said in an interview with Business Insider. "They ought to have grounded the Max after the crash of Lion Air Flight 610."

Njoroge, a Canadian investment professional, lost his family in March, when the Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane they were flying on crashed six minutes after taking off from Ethiopia - the second fatal crash involving a 737 Max in five months. Nine-month-old Rubi, 4-year-old Kelli, 6-year-old Ryan, their mother, Carolyne, and their grandmother Ann were heading to Kenya.

He testified in front of a congressional subcommittee on aviation safety this week, where he described the agony of his loss and asked Congress to hold Boeing accountable for the crashes. He also advocated for a full safety review of the Max aircraft, including its certification as a new plane model.

Among his criticisms of Boeing's fund is the fact that the announcement was made in an effort to generate positive publicity, despite the fact that there were no solid details ready.

"It has no structures. You know, they don't have a plan of how they will be spent," he said. "They juggled with the lives of people and now they just want to play with the minds of the public because they want the public to think that, oh, Boeing cares a lot."

Robert A. Clifford, a lawyer who represents numerous victims' families - including Njoroge - agreed.

"Even giving Boeing its due, it missed its mark," he said, "because they added a new layer of confusion to expedient and efficient relief to these families."

Part of the issue is that although Boeing is also working directly with Ethiopian Airlines and its insurers, none of them have begun making payments to families yet, and some of those families are struggling to get by.

The fund is unrelated to that, and, according to Clifford, adds a layer of confusion. He said families would prefer that Boeing focus on helping the airline's efforts.

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