A highly publicized incident was caught on video aboard a United Airlines flight preparing to leave from Chicago. After the passengers were aboard, the airline made an announcement that it was overbooked and offered $400 travel vouchers to those willing to take another flight. After nobody volunteered, the offer went to $800 and then $1000. Apparently, some United Airline employees were needed aboard that flight and no remaining seats were available. Dr. David Dao, a 69-year old physician, refused to offer his seat because he needed to return to work. After exchanging words with airport security, Dao was physically removed from the plane and sustained visible injuries. Upon his release from the hospital, it was reported that his attorney was drafting a lawsuit.
United's Response to Incident
Brett Hart, the general counsel for the airline was unavailable for a comment; however, CEO Oscar Munoz issued statements. Munoz says he is recommitting to both customers and employees that measures are underway to remedy the incident and that it will be prevented from happening again. He says there is a need to revisit the protocols associated with airport security & law enforcement.
A Legal Perspective
Thomas Demetrio, a Chicago-based attorney, has been retained for the Dao case. He says that all due diligence is being conducted prior to the formal filing of the suit. Aviation attorney Arthur Wolk weighed in on the matter saying that a civil case could stretch beyond a million dollars in damages. He provided an outline of the case as follows:
- United's own contract of carriage appeared to be breached by Dao's removal.
- In addition to an action of personal injury and a violation of civil rights, he feels that assault and battery charges may be appropriate.
- United's policies allow for denials among passengers boarding the aircraft; however, Dao was already seated at the time.
- Their rules also allow for removal of unruly passengers, but again no evidence of such is said to have occurred.
- Wolk says that he doubts the case will make it to a jury, rather it will be settled in negotiation.
Attorney Explains General Consumer Dissatisfaction
Demetrio explained that consumers are expressing growing displeasure toward the airline industry in recent years. Prices have risen, while basic services have either been reduced or require additional charges. Planes are crowded and have smaller seats and overhead storage capacity. Carriers have greatly consolidated, which has decreased competition in many markets. The post-9/11 security situation has also made flying a much less enjoyable experience.
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Attorney
If you have sustained injuries because of the reckless actions of another party, you may be entitled to financial redress. For many years, The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has successfully represented Colorado's personal injury victims in civil actions. Keep in mind that you may have a short time in which to file a claim; therefore, contact the office at (303) 825-2223 to discuss the details of your case today.