Fifteen Percent of $500 Million from Boeing Criminal Settlement Disbursed After Two Months

It has been almost two months since Kenneth Feinberg’s law firm began taking claims for the $500 million in the Boeing 737 Max crash victims compensation fund.  

Families of Victims of Boeing Crash
Hold Vigil September 10, 2019 in Washington DC

And as of yesterday, $76.5 million has been disbursed to 53 families – or fifteen percent of the $500 million earmarked for victims of the two Boeing Max 8 crashes – the October 2018 crash off the coast of Indonesia that took the lives of all 189 passengers and crew and the March 2019 crash in Ethiopia that took the lives of all 157 passengers and crew.

Each eligible surviving family will receive $1,445,086.70 per victim.

“To date we have received claims from 213 of the 346 families,” Camille Biros of Feinberg’s law firm told Corporate Crime Reporter.  “The deadline for filing claims for the funds is not until October 15, 2021.”

“As of yesterday we have made payment to 53 families,” Biros said.   

“We are reviewing the claims in the order in which they are received,” Biros said. “Some are deficient mostly because the distribution of the money does not comply with the intestacy laws of that country.  These are then sent back to the claimant – or attorney – for correction.”

How long does it take from the time a claim is filed until the payment is made?

“It is several weeks from first review to payment,” Biros said.

“If not all families have applied by the deadline, we will of course reach out to them and allow more time if needed.”

Biros said that her firm distributed two previous Boeing crash funds – “the first $50 million to the families – $144,500 per victim –  and the second $50 million to the families’ choices of charitable organizations.”

The $500 million compensation fund was created by the criminal settlement entered into earlier this year by Boeing and the Department of Justice. 

Under that deferred prosecution agreement, Boeing was ordered to pay $2.5 billion – a criminal monetary penalty of $243.6 million, compensation payments to Boeing’s 737 MAX airline customers of $1.77 billion, and the establishment of the $500 million crash-victim beneficiaries fund.

The criminal settlement has come under fire as a sweetheart deal for not forcing Boeing to admit criminal wrongdoing, for not charging any culpable executive, and for not even appointing a monitor. 

The lead prosecutor in the case, Erin Nealy Cox, left the Justice Department earlier this year and went on to join Boeing’s lead criminal defense firm – Kirkland & Ellis — as a partner in the firm’s Dallas office.

Who is the Feinberg client – Boeing or the Department of Justice?

“The client is Boeing,” Biros said. “The Department of Justice was involved in the selection process of the administrator as well as input into the final protocol.”

How much is Boeing paying the Feinberg law firm to administer the fund?

“We do not discuss compensation,” Biros said.

The $500 million fund is separate and apart from the ongoing civil litigation before a federal court in Chicago, Illinois.

According to the fund’s web site, “the fund is completely separate from any civil litigation related to the crashes.”

“Claimants will not be required to waive any claim against Boeing or sign any release in order to receive money from the fund. The fund is separate and apart from any such litigation.”

One of the lead lawyers in the civil litigation against Boeing is Robert Clifford. (See Robert Clifford on the Case Against Boeing, 33 Corporate Crime Reporter 27(11), Monday, July 5, 2019.) According to news reports, Clifford is a long time-friend of Feinberg.

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