Dr. David Dao, who was dragged off a United Airlines flight earlier this month in what has now become a media firestorm for the airline, is probably going to file a lawsuit against the company, said lawyer Thomas Demetrio in a Chicago news conference Thursday.
On the now infamous United flight, the company realized that it needed to remove four passengers from a sold-out flight in order to transport four crew members. The 69-year old Vietnamese-American doctor was one of four passengers randomly selected by United Airlines to be removed from the plane after no one volunteered. But Dr. Dao refused to leave his seat, saying he had patients to see in the morning.
The company called Chicago’s Department of Aviation police officers to remove Dao, who continued to refuse. A third officer was called and violently dragged Dao from his chair, leaving him with a broken nose and concussion and producing the now-infamous video of Dao being dragged through the aisle.
According to Demetrio, the injuries Dao suffered included two missing front teeth, a broken nose, sinus injuries and a significant concussion. He will require reconstructive surgery and is a case any lawyer would relish. Demetrio added that Dao said, “being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced in Vietnam.”
United has not indicated how it will respond to any potential lawsuits, however, the company announced that it was changing its policy on displacing customers Friday. The new policy dictates that the company will no longer attempt to remove passengers who are already seated in the plane. The policy will also ensure that crews are booked for any flights 60 minutes before departure, so passengers are never removed after boarding.
The decision will mean that late crew members or crew members making last-minute trips will have to wait for the next flight rather than jump on the first available.
Delta, who was uninvolved in the incident, announced that it would increase its compensation for seated passengers asked to leave up to nearly $10,000.
CEO Oscar Munoz also received some heat for claiming Dao was “belligerent” in early statements about the incident, but later apologized, clarifying, “He was a paying passenger sitting on our seat in our aircraft, and no one should be treated like that. Period.”