The family of an American woman who died in last month’s Ethiopian Airlines crash has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Boeing, Ethiopian Airlines and a Delaware company alleged to have manufactured a defective part of the plane.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Chicago on Thursday by the family of Samya Stumo, 24.
According to a press release from the family’s attorneys, Stumo was traveling for her job with ThinkWell, a Washington, DC health systems development organization, when the Boeing 737 Max 8 went down on March 10, killing all 157 people on board.
It was the second crash involving a 737 Max 8 in less than six months, after Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea on October 29. All 189 people on the flight died.
This is the first suit on behalf of an American, said the family’s attorneys from the Clifford Law Offices of Chicago and Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy of San Francisco.
It names as defendants several parties, including Boeing, which manufactured the aircraft, and Rosemount Aerospace, Inc., which allegedly made a faulty sensor believed to have played a role in the crash, according the attorneys’ statement.
The complaint contains nine counts brought against those companies and Ethiopian Airlines, including negligence, breach of warranty, failure to warn and civil conspiracy.
A separate claim was filed against the Federal Aviation Administration, attorneys said.
Boeing did not respond to CNN’s request for comment Thursday morning.
Rosemount declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Boeing ‘put profits over safety,’ lawsuit says
The lawsuit accuses Boeing of rushing the 737 Max 8 to market to compete with rival Airbus and that company’s A320 aircraft.
Boeing “put profits over safety,” the complaint says, and exhibited “conscious disregard for the lives of others.”
The lawsuit also takes aim at Boeing’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, otherwise known as MCAS. The system is meant to automatically lower the nose of the plane when a sensor indicates that the aircraft is at risk of stalling. The lawsuit says the sensor was manufactured by Rosemount.
Investigators in both the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash have focused on MCAS and its possible role in both crashes.
Boeing says it is fixing the MCAS software.
The Stumo family’s lawsuit points to Boeing’s claim the 737 Max 8 was so similar to past 737 models that pilots would not need to be retrained, hoping more airlines would then purchase the plane.
Ultimately, the lawsuit says, that meant pilots weren’t aware of the MCAS system, since it was meant to operate automatically. Pilots who did receive training reported the MCAS system was not mentioned, the lawsuit claims.
According to a preliminary report by the Ethiopian Transport Ministry, the pilots on Flight 302 repeatedly performed all of Boeing’s procedures but were unable to regain control of the aircraft before it crashed. The report does not mention MCAS by name.
CNN obtained a copy of that report, which has not been publicly released, on Thursday.
Victim would have changed the world, her family says
Stumo’s family members spoke at a press conference Thursday. They described through tears a bright, resourceful and compassionate woman who had raised pigs on her family’s farm as a child and taught herself to read while her parents cared for a baby brother who died of cancer.
Her father, Michael Stumo, described being awakened by his wife early in the morning on March 10, and being told a plane had crashed in Ethiopia.
“I did not believe that Samya could be on that plane,” he said. “I could not lose another child. But she was on the plane. I could not breathe.”
The family traveled to Ethiopia to bring her home, but soon learned there were no survivors and they wouldn’t be able to bring home fragments of her body.
Her brother, Adnaan, said that as she grew up, Samya taught him about self-awareness, sensitivity to others, and joyfulness.
“But what she had to offer the world of global health was even greater,” he said. “Give Samya the next half-century to apply her intelligence and zeal to the institutional failings of international aid, and the world would be utterly changed.”
Stumo’s great-uncle is Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and former presidential candidate.
Nader also spoke at the press conference by phone, condemning the relationship between Boeing and the FAA, and calling Stumo “extraordinary.”
“She had leadership, compassion and intellectual rigor written all over her,” he said. “She would drop anything to help everybody.
“We’ll never know how many people would have been saved by her work over the next 50 years.”