(NEW YORK) — The lawyer for a United Airlines passenger who was forcibly dragged off a flight this week said today that a lawsuit would “probably” be filed.
Thomas Demetrio said Dr. David Dao had suffered a broken nose among other injuries, and would be undergoing reconstructive surgery. Dao was discharged from the hospital last night, Demetrio said.
The lawyer said that his client was a Vietnamese expat, who left his home country after the fall of Saigon in 1975. He claimed that Dao told him that his experience on the United flight was “more terrifying and harrowing than leaving Vietnam.”
And he said passengers are routinely mistreated by the airline industry and Dao could be “the guy to stand up for passengers.”
However, he said, he did not believe the incident was a matter of race.
Dao’s daughter, Crystal Pepper, said at the press conference that her family’s “lives have been interrupted” and that “it has been a very difficult time for our entire family – especially my dad – and we are truly grateful for your support.”
“What happened to my dad should never happen to any human being, regardless of the circumstance,” she added.
Videos of Dao being dragged down the aisle of a flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday sparked a furor on social media and prompted United CEO Oscar Munoz to apologize on Wednesday and promise that an incident like this “will never happen again.”
“My initial words fell short of truly expressing the shame,” Munoz said in an exclusive interview on “Good Morning America.”
He added that the feelings of embarrassment were “palpable” for him and his United colleagues.
United Airlines confirmed to ABC News that it was compensating all passengers of the flight for the full price of their tickets.
“All airlines — they need to come out and figure out this overbooking situation,” Demetrio said.
“I don’t think anybody has to tell any airline, any police force, to not do what we all saw on the video,” Demetrio said. “I think in the short term that’ll never happen again.”
Demetrio said the city of Chicago is also responsible for the event.
One of the officers involved in Dao’s forcible removal has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. The department said in statement Monday that the incident “was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department.”
United released a statement following the press conference, saying, “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.”
The airline said it would “not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from our flights unless it is a matter of safety and security.” It also said it was reviewing policies related to the incident.
During the press conference, Demetrio said his client had not been contacted by Munoz.
However, Munoz told “GMA” that he had “reached out to [Dao] and left a message and our team has tried to reach him on several occasions. We have not been able to contact him directly.”
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