Wife of Army captain killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash sues Boeing, urges airlines to 'ban' 737 Max jet

Then-2nd Lt. Antoine Lewis sends a greeting to Chicago, Illinois from Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan for Independence Day 2012. The 39-year-old Army captain was among the 157 people killed in a plane crash in Ethiopia on Sunday.


By LAUREN ZUMBACH | The Chicago Tribune | Published: July 25, 2019

CHICAGO (Tribune News Service) — Matteson native Antoine Lewis was one of 346 victims of two fatal plane crashes involving Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft. His wife on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the aircraft’s manufacturer and urged airlines to ban the plane from their fleets and replace it with an alternative “proven to be safe."

The lawsuit adds to the more than 100 cases filed against the Chicago-based company since the crashes. The filing came the same day that Boeing reported its biggest quarterly loss in at least two decades, and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company will consider temporarily shutting down production of the 737 Max if the plane’s return is significantly delayed beyond October.

The Boeing 737 Max has been grounded since March after a pair of deadly crashes involving the aircraft in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Lewis, 39, was an Army captain who had served for 15 years and was stationed in Canada where he lived with his 15-year-old son, according to the lawsuit. He was on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi, Kenya, that crashed in March minutes after taking off, said Lopez-Lewis, who said they met while both were serving in the Army and married a little more than a year before his death.

“As a result of Boeing’s reckless disregard for safety and gross negligence in the design and marketing of the Boeing 737 Max 8, Antoine lost his life. But also on that day, a wife lost her husband, two boys lost their father, a family lost a gem, and a country lost a hero,” Lopez-Lewis said at a news conference about her lawsuit against Boeing and one of its suppliers.

The lawsuit accused Boeing of negligence, saying the aircraft maker knew or should have known about alleged problems with the aircraft’s design and changes that made it different from earlier 737 models, and failed to warn pilots, airlines and the public about the alleged risks.

Boeing declined to comment on the family’s lawsuit directly.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Antoine Lewis and to all of the families and loved ones of those onboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610. As the investigations continue, Boeing is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities,” the company said in an emailed statement.

In May, relatives of passengers on the Lion Air 737 Max that crashed off the coast of Indonesia agreed to try to settle their cases through mediation.

The aircraft manufacturer also set up a $100 million fund to help families and communities affected by the two crashes earlier this month. Boeing called it an “initial investment” that would be paid out over several years and was unrelated to potential payments from the lawsuits.

Before the 737 Max can begin flying again, regulatory agencies must approve changes Boeing is making to flight-control software linked to both crashes.

It’s unclear how long that process will take. The Federal Aviation Administration asked for additional changes after finding a “potential risk” last month.

“Disciplined development and testing is underway and we will submit the final software package to the FAA once we have satisfied all of their certification requirements,” Boeing said in a news release Wednesday.

Boeing on Wednesday said it lost nearly $3 billion in its second quarter, as it absorbed financial damage caused by the Max. Revenue plunged 35% after Boeing halted deliveries of any new Max jets.

The loss was expected. Last week, Boeing announced it would take a $4.9 billion after-tax charge for the Max.

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