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US Airline To Pay $30 Million After Paralysed Man Was “Violently” Moved While Deboarding


The airline reached a settlement on Tuesday after a one-day trial.

United Airlines has settled a lawsuit with the family of a quadriplegic man who was left brain-damaged following an incident while he was being deboarded from the plane in 2019, as per a report in CBS News. The family of Nathaniel Foster Jr. claimed that the airline “failed to abide by the standard of care owed to disabled passengers” after an employee “aggressively” pushed his wheelchair while helping him with deboarding. According to the complaint, the man suffered “significant” and irreversible brain damage as a result of the same.

The family’s attorneys said in a lawsuit filing that the 26-year-old, who was using a wheelchair, ventilator, and tracheal tube at the time of the incident, “jerked forward and back” and slouched in his chair after it was “forcefully” pushed when he disembarked. He was travelling to attend a funeral with his family. He appeared “frightened” and said, “I can’t breathe,” but a gate agent, according to the complaint, “giggled” and assured a doctor who offered to assist him that “we got this.” Mr Foster then had a heart attack and a medical professional noticed that he had no pulse.

According to the lawsuit, Mr Foster’s life expectancy has decreased from 39 to 31.5 years as a result of the incident, leaving him unable to speak or eat solid foods.

Further, when Mr Foster’s mother called the United Airlines accessibility desk before their trip, she said she was given guarantees that her son would be helped properly to get on and off the plane. However, the lawsuit asserted that when the plane landed in Louisiana, there was initially just one flight attendant to assist him with getting off the aircraft when he actually needed four to six persons to help him leave the plane.

The airline reached a settlement on Tuesday after a one-day trial. According to Reuters, out of the $30 million settlement, about $12 million will go towards legal fees and $3 million towards additional expenses.

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