U.S. appeals court revives Boeing 737 MAX shareholder suit

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a pension plan's 2019 shareholder lawsuit against Boeing Co (BA.N) officers and directors alleging they had made false public statements about the 737 Max.

The plane was involved in two crashes that killed 346 people over a five-month period and led to the plane's grounding in March 2019.

The Seafarers Pension Plan filed a lawsuit alleging that current and former Boeing officers and board members made false and misleading statements about the 737 MAX in proxy materials from 2017 through 2019. The suit seeks damages from these people on behalf of the company.

A U.S. District Court judge previously dismissed the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, applying a Boeing bylaw that gave the company the right to insist claims be filed in a Delaware state court. In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit on Friday reversed the lower court ruling.

Filing the suit in a federal court in Chicago, where Boeing is headquartered, "seems appropriate for the case," the majority wrote. The Delaware court does not have jurisdiction over the federal claims at issue, the ruling said.

Boeing declined to comment.

The 737 Max crisis cost Boeing more than $20 billion and grounded the plane for 20 months. The 737 MAX only returned to service after the company made significant software and training improvements.

In November, Boeing current and former company directors reached a $237.5 million settlement with shareholders in a separate lawsuit over the board's 737 MAX safety oversight.

Boeing agreed to a $2.5 billion deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department in January 2021 stemming from the 737 MAX crashes.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Jonathan Stempel; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.