CHICAGO (CBS) — The attorney for Dr. David Dao, the man dragged off a United Airlines flight on Sunday, said his client suffered a “significant concussion,” a broken nose, and lost two teeth in the incident at O’Hare International Airport.
Three Chicago Department of Aviation security officers pulled Dao out of his seat and dragged him down the aisle after he refused to give up his seat voluntarily. The airline had sought volunteers to take another flight so four United employees could get to Louisville to crew another plane on Monday.
Attorney Thomas Demetrio said Dao emigrated from Vietnam after surviving the Vietnam War.
“He said that being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying than what he experienced in Vietnam,” Demetrio said.
Demetrio said Dao was released from the hospital Wednesday night.
He said Dao suffered a “significant concussion” and a broken nose, and lost two front teeth as a result of being forcibly removed from the plane. Dao also will need reconstructive surgery down the line, according to Demetrio.
Demetrio also said Dao has “not a lick” of memory of going back on the airplane after he was dragged off.
Dao’s daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper, said the family is grateful for the “huge outpouring of prayers, love and concern from all over the world” since video of the incident went viral.
“What happened to my dad should have never happened to any human being, regardless of the circumstance. We were horrified and shocked and sickened to learn what happened to him and to see what happened to him,” Pepper said. “He’s a loving grandfather, and at the end of the day, that’s person we’re trying to protect.”
Dao’s attorney said there will “probably” be a lawsuit over the incident.
“If you’re going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence,” Demetrio said.
Demetrio said airlines like United owe passengers “the highest duty of care to provide protection and safety” to passengers, but “that was not done in this case.”
“For a long time, airlines – United in particular – have bullied us. They have treated us less than maybe we deserve,” Demetrio said.
Demetrio also said he believes United CEO Oscar Munoz’s public apology on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday was “staged.” He said he believes Munoz was caught off guard when asked if Dao did anything wrong to warrant being dragged off the plane, noting he hesitated before saying no.
“Initially he backed up his people, and that may be a big part of the problem,” Demetrio said. “It’s us against them. Well, we’re them, and this lawsuit … will create a national discussion and an an international discussion on how we’re going to be treated.”
“He apologized, we accept that, but that’s not going to let them off the hook here,” he added.
Although Dao is Asian-American, Demetrio said he does not believe his treatment on the flight was racially motivated.
“I don’t think this is a matter of race at all,” Demetrio said. “This could have happened to any of us.”
After Demetrio and Pepper addressed reporters in Chicago on Thursday, United Airlines again issued an apology:
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.
Demetrio said the family has not been contacted by United, and claimed Munoz “misspoke” when he said he’d tried to contact Dao.
“I’m not looking for a telephone conversation with Mr. Munoz, okay? I don’t believe that would be fruitful. I’d rather he spend his time changing the culture of United Airlines,” he said.