The lawyer for Dr. David Dao, the Vietnamese-American who was violently dragged off the overbooked United flight from Chicago to Louisville last Sunday, has revealed the extent of his injuries while confirming Dao’s intent to sue the airline.
Dr. Dao’s lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, revealed in a press conference via CNN that he suffered “a significant concussion as a result of disembarking that plane,” the loss of two of his front teeth, a broken nose, damage to his sinuses, and will now be “undergoing reconstructive surgery in that regard.”
Chicago police had stated earlier this week that Dao’s injuries were sustained because he “fell”.
Demetrio added that the family does intend to file a lawsuit against United, saying, “I promise you it won’t be that long.”
“If you’re going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence. That’s the law.
“For a long time, airlines — United, in particular — have bullied us. … We want respect and we want dignity. That’s it. Not a big deal.”
Dr. Dao plans to file the suit in the Cook County, Illinois Circuit Court, as the incident took place at O’Hare International Airport, and will take aim at United as well as the city of Chicago whose department of aviation officers were responsible for the doctor’s assault while removing him from the plane.
Demetrio added that as he was talking to Dr. Dao, he told him of his experience of escaping Vietnam on a boat in 1975 after the fall of Saigon and that “being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced in Vietnam.”
The lawyer added that Dr. Dao “has no interest in ever seeing an airplane again” and will likely use a car to get to his home in Kentucky. He also revealed that Dr. Dao has no memory of the incident.
Also in attendance at the news conference was Dr. Dao’s daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper, who revealed her parents were returning home from vacation in California when they had to make a connecting flight in Chicago. She said that Dr. Dao was a “wonderful father” and a “loving grandfather.”
“My dad is healing right now, and that’s all I have to say,” she said. Pepper also thanked supportive communities for the outpouring of love and well wishes.
Dr. Dao’s experience with United has caused outrage from several Asian communities, resulting in a public relations disaster for United Airlines. Eyewitness accounts from passengers who watched in horror revealed additional details surrounding the incident that oppose statements from United CEO Oscar Munoz earlier this week that called Dr. Dao “disruptive and belligerent”
Fellow passenger Jayse Anspach revealed to CNN that when United offered vouchers for volunteers to take a later flight so that four United employees could board the overbooked plane, Dr. Dao and his wife agreed to take a later flight but changed their mind when they learned that the next flight wouldn’t take off until Monday morning. Anspach told CNN:
“He was very emphatic: ‘I can’t be late. I’m a doctor. I’ve got to be there tomorrow.'”
Another couple on the flight, the Cummingses, revealed Dao wasn’t belligerent but only mildy upset as multiple security officers arrived demanding he leave the plane. According to the couple, Dao never raised his voice until the officers began using excessive force.
You can watch the full press conference below: