At this point, you've probably seen the horrific video of Dr. David Dao, a 69-year-old physician, being dragged off United Airlines flight 3411. Dao had been asked to leave, refused, and was physically removed from the plane by Chicago Department of Aviation security officials.
Now, Dao has announced plans for a lawsuit against United Airlines.
Attorneys Thomas A. Demetrio and Stephen L. Golan, along with Dao's daughter Crystal Dao Pepper, made the announcement this morning at a press conference at the Union League Club in Chicago.
"Here’s the law, real simple," Demetrio said. "If you’re going to eject a passenger under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence. That’s the law."
"If unreasonable force or violence is used," he continued. "The common carrier, United Airlines in this case, is responsible."
What happened to my dad should have never happened to any human being regardless of the circumstance
Demetrio said he believes that the city of Chicago is also responsible, and suggested that Dao's "physical injuries," "mental injuries," and "emotional injuries" would be part of the case, and that he and Golan have made contact with both employees of United and passengers on flight 3411 who witnessed the event. According to Demetrio, United has yet to reach out to either of Dao's lawyers or his family.
Yesterday, Demetrio and Golan's lawyers filed an emergency bill of discovery against both the city of Chicago, the municipal corporation operating Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and United Airlines.
The petition requests the preservation and protection of surveillance video recordings of the boarding process of flight 3411 on April 9, the cockpit recording, the flight's passenger, employee and crew lists, all incident reports, United Airlines protocols in effect for the removal of passengers, and the personnel files of the police who removed Dao from the plane.
However, Dao's lawyers are not yet ready to officially file a lawsuit. "Will there be a lawsuit? Yeah, probably," Demetrio said. "We’re not ready to sue. We’re doing our due diligence. When we file our lawsuit it’s because every word is in that lawsuit for a reason."
"When our investigative work is done, we will file suit,” Demetrio said. "We have two years to file it. I promise you it won’t be that long." He also indicated that it would be filed in state court, and that he hopes this case has a widespread impact on how airlines treat their customers.
"Our role will be to just get the facts and to get them out. We’re going to be vocal about the whole subject of what we as a society say passengers are entitled to. Are we going to just continue to be treated like cattle? Bullied?" Demetrio asked. "We all have enough angst for flying as it is. A lot of stuff out there. But don’t treat the people who help make you the corporate entity you are like Dr. Dao was treated."
However, he would not speculate as to how much the lawsuit would be for. "I have no idea," he said. "At the appropriate time, we know how to evaluate a case for a fair and adequate compensation."
Are we going to just continue to be treated like cattle? Bullied?
After a series of tone-deaf statements, United CEO Oscar Munoz finally offered an apology, saying that "we take full responsibility and will work to make it right." He has also promised an examination of company policies and "how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement" by the end of April.
The airline has also offered to reimburse all those on board flight 3411 at the time of Dao's removal.
One Chicago Aviation Department security officer who was involved in the incident has been suspended, "pending a thorough review."
Dao has been released from the hospital. His injuries include a concussion, a broken nose, and injury to the sinuses. According to Demetrio, he also lost multiple teeth and will be undergoing reconstructive surgery.
"On behalf of my dad and my entire family, we would like to express our gratitude for the huge outpouring of prayers love and concern that we have received from all over the world these past few days," said Pepper.
"What happened to my dad should have never happened to any human being regardless of the circumstance. We were horrified and shocked and sickened, and we hope that in the future nothing like this happens again."
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