CHICAGO — The man recorded on video being dragged of a United Airlines flight suffered a severe concussion and a broken nose, his attorney said.
Dr. David Dao, 69, also lost two front teeth. Attorney Thomas Demetrio said Dao was discharged from the hospital Wednesday night and didn’t remember much about the incident.
Demetrio is one of the lawyers representing Dao and his family after video of Dao’s removal from a flight Sunday night at O’Hare International Airport went viral. Dao refused to give up his seat to make room for crew members. The plane was full when United asked four passengers to volunteer to give their seats up. When no one volunteered, the airline randomly selected four passengers to leave, including Dao.
Dao didn’t want to leave the flight, which was bound for Louisville, because he had patients to attend to.
According to Demetrio, the experience for Dao was more terrifying and harrowing than when he left Vietnam in a boat during the fall of Saigon in 1975.
“I would defy anyone to suggest that there was no unreasonable force and violence used to help Dr. Dao disembark that plane,” Demetrio said.
Demetrio said Dao’s family accepted the public apology of United CEO Oscar Munoz, although he maintained that neither he nor the Dao family had heard personally from Munoz.
Dao’s daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper, said the family was “horrified, shocked and sickened” when they learned what happened to Dao on the plane. Seeing video of the incident, which was recorded by several other passengers, only exacerbated the feeling, she said.
Demetrio said a lawsuit was “likely” in the case. He told reporters the lawsuit hadn’t been filed yet because the firm was making sure it did its “due diligence” and had all the bases covered. The law firm took a step toward filing a lawsuit when it filed a motion asking that surveillance video from the airline be preserved.
Demetrio suggested that air travelers have “bullied” passengers for a long time and called upon corporate America to do better.
“Here what we want as a society: we want fairness in how people treat us. We want respect, and we want dignity,” Demetrio said.
The attorney said Dao now sees himself as “the guy” standing up for other passengers going forward.
Dao’s daughter said the family has received an outpouring of support from “all over the world.”
“My dad is a wonderful father. He has raised with my mother 5 great children who have gone on to do great things,” she said.
Demetrio said Dao was being held in a “secure location” and asked the media not to bother him. His client will need surgery at some point for injuries he suffered during the ordeal, Demetrio said.
United Airlines released the following statement following the press conference:
We continue to express our sincerest apology to Dr. Dao. We cannot stress enough that we remain steadfast in our commitment to make this right.
This horrible situation has provided a harsh learning experience from which we will take immediate, concrete action. We have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.
First, we are committing that United will not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from our flights unless it is a matter of safety and security. Second, we’ve started a thorough review of policies that govern crew movement, incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. Third, we will fully review and improve our training programs to ensure our employees are prepared and empowered to put our customers first. Our values – not just systems – will guide everything we do. We’ll communicate the results of our review and the actions we will take by April 30.
United CEO Oscar Munoz and the company called Dr. Dao on numerous occasions to express our heartfelt and deepest apologies.