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737 MAX 9 Blowout Foretold: Ralph Nader on Grandniece’s 2019 Death & Boeing’s Negligence

Web ExclusiveJanuary 06, 2024
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The Federal Aviation Administration is grounding more than 170 Boeing 737 MAX 9s after an Alaska Airlines panel blew out late Friday near Portland, Oregon, leaving a gaping hole. The plane was able to land safely, and no passengers were seriously injured. Earlier on Friday, we spoke with legendary consumer advocate Ralph Nader about “Boeing’s criminal design of the Boeing 737 MAX,” and how his grandniece was killed in a 2019 airplane crash over Ethiopia.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, I was just thinking, Ralph, that when I went to the big opening for the book, that amazing meal that so many people came out to have, that’s when I met your grandniece. That’s when I met Samya Stumo, who was 24 years old and died in that Ethiopian flight, that plane that was made by Boeing. Samya’s middle name is Rose, named for your mother. If you can talk about the latest on that? I mean, you may remember, of course, that day she was there, and then we went over to the tort museum, not like apple tortes, but your famous museum in Winsted, Connecticut, and I got to spend time with her. Talk about Samya and the case.

RALPH NADER: Well, Samya was extraordinary. She was an emerging leader in global health in her early twenties. She had peer-review articles at international conferences. She had a vivaciousness and a charisma that was built on content and a relentless focus on delivering healthcare all the way to the people, breaking through bureaucracies and distortions of health aid. And it was a huge loss at the time when she went down with 146 other people right outside Addis Ababa in Ethiopia due to Boeing’s criminal design of the Boeing 737 MAX. I said at the time that a lot of people’s lives would not be saved, because Samya Rose Stumo was not going to be allowed to fulfill her great promise.

The families have all filed lawsuits. They’ve organized. They’ve got legislation through Congress to improve airline regulation by the FAA. They wanted a stronger bill, but it was miraculous that they got what they did. They had a lot of news conferences, as you know. You had them on Democracy Now! And the lawsuits are bogged down. And that’s a big story all by itself, that the judge is very inimical to having open trials with Boeing. He’s pushing the families into mediation, with more than a little arm twisting. And the plaintiff lawyers, you know, they want their fee. And the defense lawyers want to immunize the top executives of Boeing, who have thus far escaped the arm of the law for what they did and did not. And that’s a big story. And I hope the media gets on it, because it’s a gross distortion of the promise of the law of torts. Justice delayed is justice denied. And people should have a right to have an open trial in court with a trial by jury, which they’re not receiving. They’re forcing these settlements under gag order secrecy. And this judge has not allowed one single trial in four years. His name is Judge Alonso. He’s a Democratic appointee in Chicago Federal District Court.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ralph, I want to thank you so much for spending this time with us. Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, the granduncle of Samya Stumo, corporate critic, four-time former presidential candidate. His new book is titled The Rebellious CEO: 12 Leaders Who Did It Right, also the founder of the Capitol Hill Citizen newspaper, named by Time and Life magazines one of the most — one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century. He turns 90 on February 27th.

To see Part 1 of our conversation, go to I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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