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Boeing settles first 737 Max lawsuits with families of Indonesia crash victims

Key Points
  • Almost a year after a Lion Air 737 Max crashed off the coast of Indonesia killing 189 people, Boeing has started settling some of the lawsuits brought by the families of victims.
  • Reuters, which first reported the settlements, said each of the families of those killed will receive at least $1.2 million.
  • The settlements are the first to be announced among more than 50 lawsuits that were filed against Boeing relating to the Lion Air crash on October 29, 2018.
  • Boeing is also facing dozens of lawsuits related to an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash in March 2019 that killed 157 people.
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Boeing settles first Lion Air lawsuits

Almost a year after a Lion Air 737 Max crashed off the coast of Indonesia killing 189 people, Boeing has started settling lawsuits brought by the families of victims.

The Wisner law firm in Geneva, Illinois sid 11 cases against Boeing have been settled for an undisclosed amount.

Reuters, which first reported the settlements, said each of the families of those killed will receive at least $1.2 million.

The settlements are the first to be announced among more than 50 lawsuits that were filed against Boeing relating to the Lion Air crash on October 29, 2018. Boeing is also facing dozens of lawsuits related to an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash in March 2019 that killed 157 people.

Those suits continue even as Boeing prepares to pay $144,500 to the families of each person who died in 737 Max crashes. Those payments will come from a $100 million compensation fund Boeing set up earlier this year. Overseeing that fund and the payments to victims will be attorney Ken Feinberg and Camille Biros, his co-administrator.

"What we are trying to do with these families and the lawyers representing these families in all of these foreign countries is explain to them there really are no hidden agendas here," Feinberg told CNBC. "We are trying to get the money out. Boeing is pushing to get this money out separate from the litigation."

The families of 737 MAX victims have until December 31, 2019, to file a claim with the Boeing compensation fund. The claim does not eliminate their right to pursue a separate lawsuit with Boeing.

Feinberg, who also oversaw the 9/11 victim compensation fund, said many of the families in the Boeing case are still very emotional as they try to decide what to do.

"We are trying to explain to them that this really is money that would have no impact on their right to go to court or seek other redress," he said.

Boeing has not commented on the settlements.

CNBC's Meghan Reeder contributed to this report.

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Key Points
  • The FAA is already under heightened scrutiny over its approval of the Boeing 737 Max.
  • The planes have been grounded since mid-March after two fatal crashes killed 346 people.