Lisa Banks represents Curtis Ewbank, a Boeing engineer who filed an internal ethics complaint regarding the design process of the 737 MAX plane, which has been grounded worldwide following tragic crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. As originally reported in the New York Times and Seattle Times, Mr. Ewbank’s complaint reported that the company rejected adding potentially critical safety systems during the development of the 737 MAX jet due to a focus on cost and pilot re-training concerns.
Mr. Ewbank worked on the cockpit controls and displays design of the airplane, which pilots use to monitor and control the plane.
In his complaint, Mr. Ewbank reported that Boeing did not implement a synthetic airspeed system that uses software to provide an indirect calculation of airspeed. This system would serve as a check on the plane’s “angle of attack” sensors that measure the plane’s angle in the sky, and could prevent incorrect data from being distributed to other systems if the sensors’ readings disagreed with one another. In both of the crashes of the 737 MAX flights, it is believed that the angle of attack sensors sent incorrect data to the plane’s automated MCAS system, contributing to irrecoverable nose dives.
Three of Mr. Ewbank’s former colleagues interviewed by the Seattle Times concurred that the synthetic airspeed system could have potentially prevented the tragedies in Ethiopia and Indonesia. The news coverage further noted that Mr. Ewbank’s complaint also reported concerns that Boeing’s corporate culture promoted fear over raising concerns and a lack of transparency with government aviation safety regulators.
Mr. Kumin and firm associate Harini Srinivasan represented a former restaurant manager in an arbitration lawsuit against a large restaurant corporation. The lawsuit alleged that the company terminated the plaintiff, ostensibly for missing several days of work, despite having received notice and medical confirmation from the plaintiff that the reason he had missed work was because he had just suffered a type of stroke. After litigation and trial, the arbitrator ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding the company liable for violation of both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The arbitrator awarded the plaintiff $600,000, as well as a separate award of attorneys’ fees, for a total judgment of over a million dollars.
Romdhani et al. v. Exxon-Mobil Corp.
Mr. Kumin led a team of KMB attorneys in this multi-plaintiff suit against Exxon-Mobil Corporation, the largest company in the world. In their lawsuit, filed in Delaware federal court, plaintiffs Sofiene Romdhani, Michelle Maloney, and Bobbijo Zeller alleged that their supervisors at Exxon subjected them to religious and racial harassment and discrimination, and then retaliated against them once they complained about that harassment. When Exxon filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss the case, Mr. Kumin convinced the court to deny the motion. Exxon ultimately resolved the case with the plaintiffs.
Oscarson v. U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms
Mr. Kumin, along with KMB partner Lisa Banks, filed suit against the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms on behalf of longtime employee Wendy Oscarson, who alleged that the Senate had for years failed to accommodate her physical disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. When the Senate repeated several motions seeking to dismiss the case, Mr. Kumin drafted oppositions which convinced the judge to deny them all. Mr. Kumin then successfully argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, obtaining a ruling dismissing the Senate’s attempt to appeal the matter. Following this ruling, the Senate then resolved the matter with Ms. Oscarson.
Davies v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Mr. Kumin filed this lawsuit under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act to vindicate the rights of longtime federal employee Art Davies, who alleged that he was retaliated against after he reported legal violations and waste of federal funds at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Kumin first filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which agreed that Mr. Davies had been retaliated against; Mr. Kumin was able to settle that portion of the case for a cash payment of $265,000. Mr. Kumin then filed an appeal of another portion of the case to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, ultimately convincing the Corps of Engineers to settle the second portion of the case for benefits worth additional hundreds of thousands of dollars, including cash, attorneys’ fees, backpay, promotion to a higher pay band, and retroactive retirement pay.