Boeing Paid The Families Of The Lion Air 737 MAX Crash. Their Lawyer May Have Stolen The Money.

The Boeing 737 MAX is ungrounded. Brazil’s Gol already operates it in commercial service. American Airlines will bring theirs back at the end of the month. United Airlines has already received another new delivery.

The bar for this plane to fly is higher than any other aircraft in the world. It’s been scrutinized more than any aircraft before. Changes to the MAX mean that both of the plane’s Angle of Attack sensors have to match before engaging the MCAS system.

Huge mistakes were made with the aircraft, and those mistakes exposed pilots unfamiliar with the plane’s operations to disaster when faced with rare events (and in the case of Lion Air, faulty parts and maintenance logs).

Part of moving on, though, isn’t just getting regulators to sign off on the plane. It’s making things right with the families of people who lost their lives. And that appears to have hit a stumbling block as an attorney who represented families of victims of Lion Air 610 is being sued for embezzlement.

Thomas Girardi is accused of stealing funds owed to Lion Air families, and using the money for his own lavish lifestyle, and that of his wife “pop singer and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Erika Jayne.”

The lawsuit alleges that Girardi embezzled proceeds of settlements that plane manufacturer Boeing paid out as compensation to dozens of families earlier this year. …“Tom has resorted to embezzling the proceeds of settlements that should have been directed to his clients — including … the widows and orphans who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Lion Air Flight 610 — in order to continue funding his and Erika’s lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles,” according to the complaint.

Girardi, made famous by the film Erin Brockovich which fictionalized his lawsuit against PG&E, has “refused to hand the money over despite months of demands” according to the suit. His reality star wife filed for divorce last month, though the plaintiffs claim this is a sham to protect assets.

About 5000 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have been ordered. American, United, Southwest and Air Canada all have MAX aircraft in their fleet. As the plane flies again, and continues to do so safely, it will become ubiquitous in aviation – and we’ll all wind up flying the aircraft. But the victims need to made whole as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Just to be clear, Girardi wasn’t Brokovitch’s employer/friend. That was Ed Masri, who was portrayed by Albert Finney in the movie. Rather, the character Kurt Potter, played by Peter Coyote, was based on Girardi.

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