Ex-wife of plane crash victim takes legal action against Boeing

The ex-wife of one of the victims of the plane crash in Ethiopia on 10 March in which 157 died is to take legal action against the American aircraft constructor Boeing. Originally from Brussels, Huguette Debets, a Dutch national with Rwandan roots, was a guest in VRT television’s topical discussion programme ‘De Afspraak’. She has become the first person in the world to take legal action against Boeing in connection with last month’s accident.  

Ms Debets told the programme that she wants justice for her ex-husband Jackson Musoni and the other victims.  She added that she is suing Boeing for death by negligence “for the sake of our children”.   

Whether or not the case comes to court or if she wins is of secondary importance to Ms Debets. She hopes in the first instance that by suing the story of her ex-husband’s and the other victims’ deaths gains worldwide attention.   

"It all started six months ago. 189 people killed in the first crash involving the same type of aircraft. The same model, the same negligence, technical issues, the same type of communication about complaints. Nothing was ever done about it and Boeing got away with it”, Ms Debets told ‘De afspraak’  

"Before an aircraft is sold it has to undergo a lot of tests. There is a whole procedure and so many lives are dependent on it. Everything should be 200% correct when an aircraft is put onto the market.   

"No time to mourn"

Ms Debets says that she has no time to mourn yet as there are still so many questions that need answering.

"I am now for the rest of my life going to have to explain to my children why their dad is not coming back. I want to be able to tell them what I’ve done about it. The youngest are 4 and 5. His stepdaughter is 8. They have no comprehension of what death means, but they know that there dad is dead".   

Above all Huguette Debets wants to raise awareness “There is so much injustice in the world that doesn’t get our attention. We are always told that flying is the safest way to travel and now 346 people have died in two air disasters in the space of 6 months. There are some things that are simply unacceptable and this is one of them”.     

After discussing her ex-husband's death with her solicitor they both decided to issue a law suit.

"I can’t mourn, I will have to be able at some point. But what if a third plane were to crash? I feel that it is my responsibility to tell my story and speak of my pain and I would wish it on nobody”.  

Out of court settlement or court case?

This can go two ways. "Either Boeing tries to reach an out of court settlement. They pay to quieten things down as quickly as possible. Or the case will go to court. What can I do if they want an out of court settlement?"

"Everyone perceives justice differently. The fact that we are talking about it now, that the world is talking about it for longer than on the day of crash itself and certain mistakes have been brought to the surface all mean that we have come a long way. I think that Boeing, but maybe not well enough yet, that they won’t get off scot-free like they did the first time”.

“You notice in interviews with Boeing that this is a great source of stress for them. I expect that it will take a long time yet, but I have got plenty of time”, Huguette Debets concluded.

Currently all Boeing 737 MAX planes are grounded.