Irish woman files US court motion over plane crash that killed her husband

Families of the 346 people who died in two plane crashes — including Irishman Mick Ryan — commence a legal battle to overturn the 'slap on the wrist' that has been issued to Boeing 
Irish woman files US court motion over plane crash that killed her husband

Naoise Ryan with a photo of her late husband Mick. Picture: Jonathan Tyner

An Irish woman whose husband was among the 346 victims of two 737 Max plane crashes says she intends to do everything possible to hold Boeing executives to account for the deaths.

“This is about truth, accountability, and real justice,” Naoise Ryan said last night, after she and other relatives of the crash victims filed a motion in a US court arguing that the US government “lied and violated their rights through a secret process” which allowed Boeing to escape criminal prosecution and face nothing more than “a slap on the wrist” arising out of the two crashes.

Ms Ryan’s husband, Mick, 39, a senior UN humanitarian worker from Clare, was among 157 people who died when their Boeing 737 Max aircraft, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, crashed six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, on March 10, 2019.

Mick Ryan, global deputy chief of World Food Programme Engineering, was one of 346 victims of the Boeing 737 Max crashes. Now his wife, Naoise, and other relatives of victims are taking legal action in the US. Picture: WFP/PA
Mick Ryan, global deputy chief of World Food Programme Engineering, was one of 346 victims of the Boeing 737 Max crashes. Now his wife, Naoise, and other relatives of victims are taking legal action in the US. Picture: WFP/PA

It was the second major crash involving a Max aircraft in five months.

The previous October, all 189 passengers and crew on another Boeing 737 Max, Lion Air Flight 610, were killed when the plane crashed into the Java Sea off Indonesia 13 minutes after takeoff.

However, a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) — a form of corporate plea bargain — was reached between the US department of justice and Boeing which allowed Boeing to avoid prosecution.

It included a fine of $243.6m, compensation to airlines of $1.77bn, and a $500m crash-victim fund.

Since the agreement was reached, only one employee of Boeing has been charged with a crime despite the indictment making clear his criminal acts were not undertaken in “rogue fashion and without the direction or knowledge of others within Boeing”.

Ms Ryan said she has not accepted an offer of some $1.4m which was made to her from the crash victim fund. She said: 

It’s blood money. This isn’t about money. I say this all the time, it’s about truth, accountability, and real justice.

She and other family members have filed a motion in a US court detailing how the US government “violated their rights through a secret process” when it struck the DPA with Boeing in January, and they have asked a judge to scrap the agreement.

“If the US justice department had advised us of our right to confer with it about the crimes associated with the crash, we would have urged the department to hold Boeing accountable to the full extent of US criminal law,” Ms Ryan said.

“We would have pointed out that the Boeing employees whose conduct form the basis of the DPA were acting in furtherance of Boeing’s programme goals, set at the highest levels of the company.

“Boeing should be fully prosecuted. The agreement reached under the Trump administration is merely a slap on the wrist that wrongly holds no executive accountable.”

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