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A doctor whose forcible removal from a United Continental flight sparked a social-media firestorm has suffered a concussion and broken nose and lost two teeth, among other injuries and will “probably” file a lawsuit against the airline, his lawyer said on Thursday.
The 69-year old doctor, David Dao, who left Vietnam in 1975 to come to the United States, has been released from the hospital, according to his lawyer Tom Demetrio, who spoke with reporters at a press conference in Chicago, accompanied by one of Mr Dao’s children.
Mr Demetrio said that Dr Dao lost two teeth, suffered a concussion and broken nose and will need reconstructive surgery after the incident on Sunday, video from which sparked global outrage and an outpouring of air-travel grievances.
A hearing will be held in Chicago court on Monday morning regarding Dr Dao’s request to preserve evidence from the flight, including video surveillance, cockpit voice recordings and employee and crew lists, Mr Demetrio said. He added that they were not yet ready to file a lawsuit as they are still conducting their “due diligence.”
“For a long time, airlines – United in particular – have bullied us. They have treated us less than maybe we deserve,” Mr Demetrio said. In response to questions about whether the incident had a racial motivation, Mr Demetrio said he did not believe it did, adding: “What happened to Dr Dao could’ve happened to any one of us.”
United has grown increasingly apologetic over the incident as public outrage grew, casting a cloud that weighed on its share price. Yesterday, the company said it would compensate all passengers from the flight for the full price of their tickets, and chief executive Oscar Munoz has said that the airline will never again eject a seated passenger who has paid for a ticket and is already seated.
United Continental said in a statement that it continued to express its “sincerest apology to Dr Dao.”
“We cannot stress enough that we remain steadfast in our commitment to make this right,” the company said.
The airline said that, in the wake of the incident, it will not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from flights “unless it is a matter of safety and security.” It said it is also reviewing its policies regarding crew movements, how it handles situations in which flights are oversold and its employee training programmes, among other policies. The company said it expects to release the results of that review and the actions it has planned in response by April 30.
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