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Ralph Nader > extras > Letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland

November 19, 2021
Attorney General Merrick Garland
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Garland:

As you might have read recently, some attorneys representing families of the victims of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes are charging ten percent ($145,000.00) or more to secure the $1.45 million each victim was guaranteed under the deferred prosecution agreement the Justice Department negotiated with Boeing earlier this year under the Trump Administration.

Some families have expressed outrage at this excessive fee charge, especially since many attorneys are justifiably not charging anything for filling out paperwork, and Kenneth Feinberg’s law firm, which Boeing hired to administer the fund when requested, has helped 25 of the families fill out the paperwork without charging anything.

(See “They Took Ten Percent for Something They Had Zero to Do With,” (Corporate Crime Reporter, November 8, 2021, and “Boeing Victim Family Members Express Outrage at Lawyer Fees to Secure Boeing Criminal Settlement Payment,” (Corporate Crime Reporter, November 6, 2021), both attached.)

I was surprised to hear from Kenneth Feinberg that the Justice Department has shown no interest in this matter of the disbursement of the $500 million set aside for the victims families by the deferred prosecution agreement especially since the agreement specifically gives the Department’s Fraud Section final say in the matter.

According to the deferred prosecution agreement, only the Fraud Section of the Department of Justice “shall be empowered to make final decisions regarding a) the individuals who should receive the victim payments from the Crash-Victims Beneficiaries Compensation Amount and b) the compensation amounts that these victims should receive.” (Deferred prosecution agreement, page 13, attached). Why then is the Justice Department saying “no comment” to inquiring reporters?

As of last week, Ken Feinberg had disbursed funds to 211 of the 346 families. I urge you to take charge of this matter and make sure that the lawyers representing the remaining 135 families do not take a percentage fee. I have urged Ken Feinberg to help these remaining families fill out the necessary paperwork as he did with 25 other pro se families. And I urge you to have the lawyers who charged the $145,000 return that money to the families.

You should exercise the authority granted to you in the deferred prosecution agreement and return the funds justifiably due to the victims’ families.

Ralph Nader
P.O. Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-387-8030