Whistleblower Found Dead From Alleged ‘Self-Inflicted’ Wound

(UnitedVoice.com) – John Barnett filed a lawsuit against his former employer, Boeing, after he said the company retaliated against him for being a whistleblower. On March 9, he didn’t show up for his final deposition, and his legal team became concerned after he didn’t answer his phone. Employees at the Charleston, South Carolina, hotel he was staying at later found him dead in the parking lot. Authorities called it a suicide by a “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” but his attorneys aren’t so sure.

Barnett worked as a Boeing quality control manager for over three decades. He worked in Washington for 28 years, then the company transferred him to South Carolina in 2010. He reportedly spoke out about safety concerns multiple times while working at the southern factory. In 2017, he retired.

The unthinkable happened the year after Barnett retired. A Lion Air Flight 610, a Boeing 737 MAX jet, crashed into the Java Sea, killing 189 people. Less than six months later, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, another Boeing 737 MAX, crashed, killing 157 people. The crashes prompted Barnett to become a whistleblower.

In an interview with Corporate Crime Reporter in 2019, Barnett said he saw three major issues at the Dreamliner factory. Defective parts went missing, and he discovered those parts were installed on planes without being repaired. He claims an FAA audit substantiated his concerns. Additionally, approximately 25% of the oxygen masks on the planes weren’t working properly. Finally, he said there was an issue with titanium slivers being left in the area where the flight control wires were. Again, he said the FAA audited the factory and substantiated his complaint.

After Barnett filed his first complaint in 2014, he claimed the company began retaliating. After his death, Rodney Barnett told The Associated Press that his brother suffered from “PTSD and anxiety attacks as a result of being subjected to the hostile working environment at Boeing,” which his family thinks led to his alleged suicide.

Barnett’s attorneys, Brian Knowles and Robert Turkewitz, issued a statement, saying they “didn’t see any indication he would take his own life.” In fact, they said he’s been in “very good spirits” because his lawsuit against Boeing was nearing its end.

Days after news of Barnett’s death broke, the media reported that Boeing failed 33 of 89 safety audits, and one of its suppliers failed 7 of 13 audits.

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