By Andrew Tangel and Andy Pasztor
Boeing Co.’s board is accused of failing to properly oversee management’s responses to two fatal 737 MAX crashes and the plane’s safety problems in a shareholders’ lawsuit that cites internal company documents.
The suit, filed earlier this month in a Delaware state court, claims former Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg misled what the plaintiffs portray as a largely passive board. Directors also allegedly were preoccupied by negative news stories, failing to press management over specific MAX engineering problems and skipping meetings focused on safety, according to the 142-page lawsuit.
The lawsuit, an earlier version of which was filed June 30, is heavily redacted but offers a rare boardroom glimpse into the MAX crisis, which has cost Boeing billions of dollars before the pandemic forced it to lay off thousands of employees and slash production of its commercial jets. Delaware law gave plaintiffs access to more than 44,000 internal company documents.
A Boeing /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA -1.01% spokesman said the company believes the suit lacks merit and will seek to have it dismissed later this year. Before the crashes that took 346 lives, the spokesman added, Boeing had protocols in place requiring board-level reports on the 737 MAX and other design, development and safety topics. He noted the lawsuit says the board repeatedly engaged executives after the first crash.
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