Posted: April 13, 2017
By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Attorneys for a Kentucky physician who was forcibly removed from his United Airlines seat after he refused to voluntarily give it up said Thursday at a news conference in Chicago that they will likely file a lawsuit against the airline.
Attorneys for David Dao, 69, requested an order in Cook County Circuit Court requiring that Chicago officials and United keep “all video, cockpit recordings and other reports from the flight, along with the personnel files of the Aviation Department officers who pulled Dao from the plane,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Will there be a lawsuit? Yeah, probably,” Chicago-based personal injury lawyer Thomas Demetrio said Thursday. “As you know, we’ve taken a step ... to protect and preserve certain evidence we’re going to need down the line. It’s not just a matter of throwing the video up and asking the jury, ‘OK, who wins?’”
A hearing on the order is scheduled for Monday.
Dao suffered injuries, including a severe concussion, a broken nose and an unspecified injury to his sinuses, Demetrio said. He will need reconstructive surgery and lost two front teeth.
“He’s shaken,” Demetrio said, adding that the doctor was discharged from a hospital on Wednesday after spending three days recovering from his injuries. “This was not a troubled passenger. This was not a nut job.”
Demetrio said the incident, reported Sunday, was more horrifying for Dao than went he left Vietnam during the fall of Saigon and came to the United States in 1975. Demetrio categorized the confrontation as a continuation of bullying tactics used by airlines, particularly United.
“They have treated us less than maybe we deserve. I’ve concluded that based upon hundreds of tales of woe, of mistreatment, by United,” Demetrio said. “Dr. Dao … has come to understand that he’s the guy .... to stand up for passengers going forward.”
Crystal Pepper, one of Dao’s five children, thanked the public for its prayers and concerns.
“It has been a very difficult time for our entire family, especially my dad,” she said at the news conference. “What happened to my dad should have never happened to any human being, regardless of the circumstances. We were horrified and shocked and sickened to learn what had happened to him and see what had happened to him.”
Passengers started filming Sunday on United Airlines Flight 3411 on Sunday after Dao refused to give up his seat, even after airline crew members called police to have him removed. Dao was traveling with his wife, also a doctor, out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky.
Video posted on social media showed Dao being manhandled by the officers as he screamed before they dragged him, bloodied, down the plane’s center aisle.
Another video showed Dao appearing disoriented after he made his way back to the cabin. Demetrio said Dao has no memory of returning to the plane.
"Just kill me. Kill me," he repeats in the clip. "I have to go home."
The Chicago Department of Aviation officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave as city officials investigate the incident.
Demetrio said the city could face some culpability for the situation.
“Just because United is responsible doesn’t mean the city of Chicago isn’t responsible,” he said.
United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the incident and said Tuesday that the company would no long ask police to remove passengers from full flights. He also offered full refunds, in the form of cash, miles or travel credits, to all the passengers who were on Flight 3411.
The story of Dr. David Dao and United Airlines has dominated headlines since late Sunday. Dao was forcibly removed and injured after boarding a United Airlines flight out of Chicago. Footage went viral that showed Dao arguing with officers before he was removed from the overbooked flight.
On Wednesday, a new video began to circulate that showed the moments leading up to Dao’s removal.
Dao was randomly selected to de-board the aircraft when United Airlines personnel needed extra seats in order to travel for work. A Twitter user named Joya Cummings claimed to be a passenger on the flight. Cummings uploaded a video on Tuesday morning that showed what happened before Dao was removed.
“I won’t go,” Dao tells officers when they tell him he needs to leave the plane.
“I’m a physician, [I] have work tomorrow.”
When Dao is informed that he will be dragged off the flight, he threatens to sue United Airlines.
TMZ later uploaded a compilation of videos provided by Cummings.
“You can then drag me…I’m not going.” Dao says.
“I’d rather go to jail.”
Dao was ultimately taken off the flight and reportedly injured in the process.
United Airlines will offer compensation to all passengers aboard Sunday’s Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, the airline announced Wednesday.
“All customers on Flight 3411 from Sunday, April 9, are receiving compensation for the cost of their tickets,” the airline said in a statement.
The airline made headlines this week after passengers filmed and voiced outrage over an incident in which David Dao, a 69-year-old physician aboard flight 3411, was dragged off the plane after refusing to deplane. United Airlines officials had selected Dao as one of four passengers who would be re-accommodated on a later flight. United had fully booked the flight but needed to provide seats for four airline employees who needed to get to Louisville for work.
The announcement about compensating passengers came the same day United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized on national television for the airline’s role in the incident.
“This will never happen again,” Munoz said Wednesday on “Good Morning America.” “We are not going to put a law enforcement official onto a plane to take them off … to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger; we can’t do that.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story indicated that Dao and his wife were two of four passengers selected by the airline to be removed. Additional information from a April 13 news conference revealed that his wife was not selected.
The internet’s had jokes since shortly after a video emerged showing a dazed and bloodied passenger being dragged screaming from a United Airlines flight.
It’s hard to miss Merriam-Webster’s meaning in choosing to highlight the definition of “volunteer,” a word United used (in addition to “re-accommodate”) in its initial corporate responses.
Other Twitter commentary has been a little more blunt:
United Airlines is continuing to battle fallout after video emerged Monday of a man being forcibly removed from his seat on Flight 3411 after not voluntarily giving it up.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that United Airlines Chief Executive Oscar Munoz has issued another apology after a letter he sent to employees published by The Associated Press appeared to defend the actions of the crew.
“Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right,” Munoz said in the letter, according to The AP.
United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said that the Flight 3411 was not overbooked, as had been reported, but that the man, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, physician David Dao, was removed to accommodate airline crew members, according to USA Today.
Munoz issued another statement and apology Tuesday:The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way. I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right. It's never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We'll communicate the results of our review by April 30th. I promise you we will do better.
The apology may be too little too late. CNN Money reported that United Airlines market value has dropped nearly $1 billion.
The news comes after an initial apology from Munoz said the team is “moving with a sense of urgency to work with authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened” and that it would reach out to the passenger affected “to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
The letter to employees surfaced after that Monday statement.
After disturbing videos surfaced of a passenger being dragged off a plane because the flight was overbooked, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz told employees that he "emphatically" stands behind them in an internal email circulated to United Airlines employees and acquired by CNBC.
Munoz’s public apology, also reported earlier Monday by NBC News, read:
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
But in an email circulated to employees Monday, Munoz opened with, “Like you, I was upset to see and hear what happened last night,” and wrote that "the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this passenger defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers."
Munoz wrote that the “situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we asked to deplane refused” and that employees “followed established procedures.”
"While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right,” Munoz also wrote before including a brief summary of internal reports of the incidents. “I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation."
The United CEO added that the passenger at the center of the video, who said he was a doctor and had patients to see the following morning, was “disruptive and belligerent.” He said the airline “sought volunteers” before they followed an “involuntary denial of boarding process.”
– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
After a video of aviation police dragging a man off an overbooked United Airlines flight on Sunday went viral, the response was swift and sharp.
United CEO Oscar Munoz wrote in an internal email that he “emphatically” supports his employees and added that the man removed from the flight was “disruptive and belligerent.”
Coming off the heels of an incident in late March in which United kicked two girls off a flight for wearing leggings, it hasn’t been the best of times for the airline.After the incident, Twitter users did what they do best -- use memes and sarcasm to make light of the situation.
Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.
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