Bloomberg Law
July 11, 2019, 12:24 PMUpdated: July 11, 2019, 1:37 PM

Boeing, Southwest Sued for Alleged Collusion Over 737 MAX 8 (1)

Bernie Pazanowski
Bernie Pazanowski

Southwest Airlines Co. and The Boeing Co. were hit with a lawsuit by Southwest customers who say the companies colluded to hide a fatal design defect in Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

The complaint, filed July 11 in a federal court in Texas under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, alleges Southwest obtained profits through a collusive relationship with Boeing, its sole airplane supplier.

It also alleges Southwest lied and defrauded its customers, regulators, and its own pilots and employees, and risked thousands of lives in the process.

More specifically, the complaint alleges Southwest economically propped up Boeing by strategically placing orders for 737s in exchange for early access to new models of the plane. It also claims Boeing rushed the defective 737 MAX 8 to market and Southwest helped to cover up the defect by assuring customers the plane was safe.

Although it allegedly knew the 737 MAX 8 was unsafe, Southwest continued to sell seats to customers, risking their lives, as well as the lives of the planes’ crews, the complaint alleges.

The passengers claim they wouldn’t have purchased tickets to fly on Southwest had they known about the fatal flaws in the 737 MAX 8.

Southwest and Boeing weren’t immediately available for comment on the lawsuit.

Causes of Action: Violations of RICO, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and negligence.

Relief: Class certification; actual, compensatory, and punitive damages.

Attorneys: Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP represents the plaintiffs.

The case is Earl v. Boeing Co., E.D. Tex., No. 19-cv-00507, complaint filed 7/11/19.

(Updated with additional reporting throughout. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Carmen Castro-Pagan at and Jo-el J. Meyer at