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Kenya: Accept Sh15m Boeing Offer, Lawyers Tell Families of Ethiopian Crash Victims

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Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has started receiving applications from families that lost loved ones in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March.

The BBC reported on Tuesday that the applications should be made before 2020 and that each family will be entitled to $144,500 (Sh15 million).

“The money comes from a $50 million financial assistance fund, which Boeing announced in July,” reported the BBC.

A number of lawyers representing affected families have rejected the offer but, according to Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, whose law firm is part of a team representing 15 Kenyan families, the Boeing “gift” is welcome.

“The gift from Boeing is welcome as long as it does not have strings attached to it,” Mr Kang’ata told Nation.

“Boeing should not use the gift as a ploy to influence the jury. It should also disclose the methods of disbursement of those funds noting so far the information remains hazy,” he added.

LITTLE

Lawyers opposed to the move told the BBC that the amount is too small.

“$144,000 doesn’t come close to compensating any of our families or any of the families,” Nomaan Husain, a Texas-based attorney who is representing 15 families.

In a press briefing in July after Boeing announced the offer, Mr Kang’ata and Nairobi-based lawyer Stephen Gachie, whose respective law firms are in a coalition with two other firms in the US, said the families they represented had rejected an out-of-court settlement from Boeing.

The families, they said, had decided to go the long haul in cases filed in Chicago against the manufacturer of the 737 Max plane that crashed on March 10, killing all the 157 on board.

“We did appear before a judge on June 17 for a status conference. All lawyers representing various victims were present. During that status conference, the lawyer for Boeing made a settlement offer,” Mr Kang’ata told journalists in Nairobi.

“We sought instructions from our clients and so far, our clients have rejected negotiations out of court,” he added.

SWAYING THE JURY?

He noted that Boeing made a similar request during a second hearing on June 27, asking that the case should not proceed before the families consider its offer.