Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg speaks during a news conference after the company's annual shareholders meeting at the Field Museum in Chicago, on Monday, April 29, 2019.
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Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg speaks during a news conference after the company's annual shareholders meeting at the Field Museum in Chicago, on Monday, April 29, 2019.
Credit: AP Photo/Jim Young, Pool

Boeing prepares for lawsuits

Boeing says the company’s general counsel J. Michael Luttig will now exclusively manage legal issues related to the 737 MAX.

In Luttig’s new role, he will advise chief executive Dennis Muilenburg and the board of directors.

Boeing did not respond to requests for comment about why Muilenburg might need counsel. Legal experts say corporate officers are usually protected from personal liability.

Janet Ainsworth, a law professor at Seattle University, did not comment on Boeing’s specific case, but said, more generally: “If someone had lied about something to somebody else and that person relied on it and was harmed by that reliance, that might constitute fraud. And you would need your own personal lawyer to represent you on that.”

Ainsworth also said in the case of a shareholder lawsuit, if "the shareholders were alleging that what you did was not ordinary negligence, which would be covered by corporate liability but an independent intentional tortious act — like perhaps fraudulent misrepresentation — then of course you'd need separate counsel to give advice and representation on that."

Boeing is facing lawsuits over the MAX crashes, including one by shareholders. Muilenburg is named as a defendant.