Boeing could face more lawsuits after two crashes in a short span of five months both involving its 737 Max model, legal experts said on Thursday.
The crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10 and Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 in October in Jakarta killed 157 and 189 people aboard, respectively.
"I definitely would expect more suits" because of the similarities between the two accidents, said Robert L. Rabin, a law professor at Stanford University.
Because Boeing is a U.S. company and it manufactures planes in the U.S. state of Washington, the families of the victims could sue the company in the United States over potential defect product claims, said Rabin, an expert on torts and legislative compensation schemes.
So far, some families of the passengers killed in the Lion Air crash have filed a string of lawsuits in the U.S. state of Illinois, as Chicago is the company's headquarters.
The advantage for the families to have the case heard in the U.S. court is that the U.S. legal system often awards more damages than other countries do.
Aside from the families of the passengers, lawsuits by many airlines, which have been forced to ground the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, are a real possibility based on breach of contract terms, said Rabin.
Since the second crash, hundreds of 737 Max aircraft have been grounded worldwide, including in Europe, China and the United States.
The Norwegian Air is reported to have sent a bill to Boeing for the costs of the lost flights because of the grounding of its 737 Max fleet.
"There are contractual relationships between the aircraft manufacturer and the airlines. They are huge (U.S.) dollar contracts," said Mark A. Dombroff, an aviation attorney based in Alexandria, Virginia.
"I have no doubt Boeing's attorneys and the airlines' attorneys are reviewing the contract terms," he said.
"At another level, airlines and manufacturers have grounding insurance to address situations, where aircraft are grounded due to government action," Dombroff added.
But Rabin said often times such legal cases get settled rather than going through trials. Enditem