April 15, 2024


Ex-Boeing quality manager John Barnett was found dead on Saturday shortly after he gave evidence in a case against the American plane maker in South Carolina. Now, lawyers representing the 62-year-old say “no one can believe” he took his own life when the case was nearing its end.

Barnett had been embroiled in a legal battle against American plane manufacturer Boeing after he began calling out the company for its safety and quality control practices. Barnett, who worked at the company for more than 30 years, had previously highlighted issues with oxygen tanks on the 787 aircraft that meant one in four breathing masks may not function in an emergency situation.

In the years following his whistleblowing, the 62-year-old accused Boeing of “denigrating his character and hampering his career,” a claim he took to court in South Carolina. However, Barnett was found dead in his truck on Saturday shortly after being questioned by Boeing’s lawyers in the case.

Now, the legal team representing Barnett has released a statement outlining their shock at his death this weekend, reports Futurism. According to the site:

“John was in the midst of a deposition in his whistleblower retaliation case, which finally was nearing the end,” the attorneys told Futurism in an emailed statement. “He was in very good spirits and really looking forward to putting this phase of his life behind him and moving on.”

“We didn’t see any indication he would take his own life,” the statement continues. “No one can believe it.”

Although Barnett did indicate that his time at Boeing, where he spent 32 years in quality control and multiple decades as a manager, resulted in stress after his superiors began retaliating against him for raising safety concerns at the company’s SC plant, previous reports have not suggested that he had deeper mental health issues or experienced suicidal ideation.

Of course, we can never truly know how a person is doing based solely on their public demeanor; however it is significant that Barnett was nearing the end of his “protracted battle” with Boeing, as his lawyers put it.

While the Washington-based plane maker said its “thoughts are with his family and friends,” the company hasn’t yet commented on the statement from Barnett’s lawyers.

Now, Barnett’s death is the subject of an investigation that’s being undertaken by Charleston police. Futurism reports that the force is currently “awaiting the formal cause of death” as well as any further details that could “shed further light on the circumstances” surrounding Barnett’s death.

A version of this article originally appeared on Jalopnik.



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