FORT WORTH, TEXAS — A judge from North Texas U.S. District questioned the deferred plea agreement Boeing's $2.5 billion in the 737 MAX probe. The court said government prosecutors failed to consult with the relatives of 346 victims who were killed in two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor ruled on Oct. 21 that the Justice Department's agreement with the planemaker breached federal law by ignoring the input of victims, which was required in such deals.

Boeing paid $1.77 billion to Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air and 500 million to the families of crash victims because of the manufacturer's responsibility in both accidents. But Boeing executives were kept exempt from criminal liability in the end.

In January 2021, only a few months after revealing Congressional hearings regarding the case compelled the departure of senior Boeing officials, the US government announced the contentious deferred plea agreement. Additionally, a $234.6 million criminal fine was owed by Boeing.

However, according to court records, Judge O'Connor found that the deferred plea agreement was negotiated in violation of the victim's rights.

"Next, the court must decide the question of remedy," O'Connor wrote in his ruling.

The two 737 MAX crashes in less than two months sparked an international probe and harmed the American planemaker's reputation, which was accused of prioritizing profits over safety.

Investigators from Congress and the government also interrogated the reliability of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), which gave Boeing a lot of control over the certification process of its aircraft.

A flawed software system intended to stop the planes from stalling was held responsible for the crashes. However, a confluence of false data from a faulty software system pushed the planes into a nosedive from which the jet pilots were unable to recover. After the crashes, the 737 MAXs were grounded globally for nearly two years.

During a congressional hearing in May, government attorneys claimed they were unable to locate any proof that Boeing had a criminal failure in the case. On the other hand, federal prosecutors attempted but failed to charge Boeing executives.

Families of crash victims' attorneys demand that the government's case against Boeing is revived and that the results of the investigation be made public.