United Airlines avoided a lawsuit by settling out of court with a passenger whose forcible removal from a plane was captured on video and circulated online by fellow travelers, sparking widespread condemnation of the carrier.
Terms of David Dao’s settlement with Chicago-based United are confidential, according to a press release issued Thursday by Corboy & Demetrio, the law firm which represents him.
“United has taken full responsibility for what happened on Flight 3411 without attempting to blame others including the City of Chicago,” attorney Thomas Demetrio said in the statement. “For this acceptance of corporate accountability, United is to be applauded.”
Dao, who had boarded the Louisville, Kentucky-bound flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, sustained a concussion, broken nose and lost two teeth during his forcible removal by police employed by the city’s Department of Aviation, according to his lawyers.
The ensuing viral video-fueled controversy was the start of a spate of bad publicity for the United Continental Holdings Inc. unit. It continued this week with the death of a giant rabbit. Amid the fallout from the April 9 Dao incident, the company’s board canceled Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz’s expected 2018 elevation to chairman.
“United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred,” United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said in an emailed statement.
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The carrier updated its policies for oversold flights, saying Thursday it will pay as much as $10,000 to passengers who voluntarily give up their seats. It was one of 10 policy changes the airline adopted to improve customer service after the Dao incident.
Delta Air Lines Inc. also increased payouts to almost $10,000 for passengers who voluntarily give up their places on oversold flights following the public uproar over Dao’s removal. Southwest Airlines Co. said on Thursday that it will stop overbooking flights.
The United incident began when four of the airline’s crew members needed to get from Chicago to Louisville to work another flight the following morning. When no one volunteered to give up a seat in exchange for an $800 travel credit and accommodations for meals and hotels, the company’s automated system selected Dao, his wife and two other passengers to be bumped.
A Vietnam-born, Louisville-area physician, Dao insisted he needed to see patients the next day and refused to vacate his seat. Various United officials intervened in a futile attempt to persuade him, then contacted airport authorities for assistance with his removal.
“We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do,” McCarthy said