Some Boeing shareholders have sued the airplane maker, claiming it hid risks in the 737 Max aircraft, the new model involved in two deadly crashes in the last six months.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago with the plaintiffs asking for class-action status. A 737 Max crashed in both the Ethiopian Airlines accident on March 10 and Lion Air accident off Indonesia last October.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg apologized for both crashes last week and acknowledged the plane’s automated flight system played a part when it engaged shortly after takeoff.
The lawsuit seeks damages for the stockholders, who say the resulting groundings of the plane have cost Boeing stock 13 percent of its value. Deliveries of the jet fell sharply as the Max 8 was grounded around the world. The suit names Muilenburg and Greg Smith, Boeing’s chief financial officer, as defendants.
“[Boeing] effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty,” the plaintiffs say. “Defendants misled investors about the sustainability of Boeing’s core operation – its commercial airplanes segment – by touting its growth prospects and profitability, raising guidance and maintaining that the Boeing 737 Max was the safest airplane to fly the skies.”
Boeing’s first-quarter sales figures show airlines have stopped ordering 737 Max models, which had been the company’s best-selling plane before the crashes. Orders for all 737 models fell by nearly 50 from the same quarter last year.
Boeing said Friday it would slow production of the 737 Max models.