By Timothy Mclaughlin and Karen Pierog
CHICAGO (Reuters) – The United Airlines passenger dragged from a plane in Chicago in an incident that sparked international outrage and turned into a corporate public relations nightmare suffered a concussion and broken nose and will likely sue, his attorney said on Thursday.
“For a long time airlines, United in particular, have bullied us,” Thomas Demetrio told a news conference in Chicago, outlining the potential causes of action they may pursue against United and the city of Chicago.
“Will there be a lawsuit? Yeah, probably.”
David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American doctor, was hospitalized after Chicago aviation police dragged him from the plane to make space for four crew members on the flight from the city’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky.
Demetrio said the law stated that passengers could not be ejected from planes with unreasonable force. Chicago runs the airport and the city’s department of aviation employs the three officers who dragged Dao off the plane.
Dao, who was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday night, suffered a significant concussion, a broken nose and lost two front teeth in the incident, and he will need to undergo reconstructive surgery, Demetrio said.
Video of Sunday’s incident taken by other passengers and showing Dao being dragged up the plane aisle and with a bloodied mouth circulated rapidly, causing public outrage that was not calmed by the airline’s initial response.
Dao’s daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper, told the news conference that the family was “horrified, shocked and sickened” by what happened to her father. One of Dao’s five children, Pepper, 33, called him a “wonderful father” and “loving grandfather” who had been returning from vacation in California.
“What happened to my dad should have never happened to any human being,” she said.
Demetrio said Dao had told him that being dragged down the plane aisle was more terrifying than his experience fleeing Vietnam in 1975.