Boeing brings legal big gun to bear on 737 MAX crisis

May 02, 2019
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Ethiopian's group chief executive at the crash site. Photo: Ethiopian

Boeing has appointed its high-powered general counsel to a new role tasked with handling legal issues associated with the Boeing 737 MAX crisis.

Michael Luttig will also act as a senior advisor to Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg and the Boeing board as they pick their way through the legal and public relations minefield caused by the crashes.

The appointment comes as Boeing faces multiple lawsuits over the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 last October and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March.

It also faces investigations into its relationship with the US Federal Aviation Administration and certification of 737 MAX aircraft.

Luttig, 64, has served as general counsel since joining the company in 2006 and will be replaced as general counsel by Brett Gerry.

READ: Boeing boss again defends 737 MAX software design.

He will continue to hold the title of executive vice president and remains on the company’s executive council.

A  US Court of Appeals judge for 15 years, Luttig also served as assistant attorney general and counselor to the attorney general at the US Department of Justice. He held senior roles at the US Supreme Court the White House and in private practice.

“During his 13 years of service at Boeing, Judge Luttig has built the finest legal team in the world and delivered an unparalleled record of success for the company,” Muilenburg said in a statement.

“Judge Luttig is not only a brilliant legal mind, but also a critical voice on all the important issues and opportunities facing our company.”

Brett, who has been with Boeing since 2008 and has served as president of Boeing Japan since 2016, will relocate to Chicago from Tokyo.

He has held senior legal positions at Boeing including general counsel for Boeing Commercial Airplanes and chief counsel to Boeing’s network and space systems businesses.

Prior to joining Boeing, he served as chief of staff to the attorney general and deputy assistant attorney general in the National Security Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, and in the White House as associate counsel to the president.

“Succeeding in the complex, global and highly-regulated environment in which we operate, requires deep legal expertise and strong judgment,” Muilenburg said.

“For more than a decade with Boeing, on assignments across the globe, Brett Gerry has demonstrated all the skills and experiences we’re looking for in a general counsel.”