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United Airlines Settles Case Over Treatment of Disabled Flyer

United Airlines E-175

United Airlines will pay $30 million to a family who accuses the carrier of improperly deplaning their disabled child.
A family who claims the deplaning of their disabled child resulted in the reduction of his life expectancy will receive a settlement from United Airlines.


Reuters reports the settlement agreement came after the first day of the federal court trial.


$30 Million Settlement Comes After Flight Attendants Allegedly Botched Deplaning

The complaint came from an incident in February 2019, when Nathanel Foster, Jr. was traveling with his family to a funeral in Louisiana. Foster requires the use of a wheelchair, ventilator, and tracheal tube.


According to the Foster family, a ramp supervisor helping to remove Nathanel from the flight allegedly “aggressively” and “forcefully” pushed him, which may have led to injury. Foster’s mother says she heard him say “I can’t breathe,” while a flight attendant dismissed a surgeon offering to help.


The family claims Foster went into cardiac arrest, requiring emergency attention. Their doctors say that Foster now has “significant” brain damage and has lost nearly eight years of life expectancy after the incident. Further, he now cannot speak or eat solid food.


In a statement, United said that their top priority “is to provide a safe journey for all our customers, especially those who require additional assistance or the use of a wheelchair.”


The Foster family, who will pay half of the settlement to covering lawyers and other costs, told the court that the settlement is “fair and reasonable,” but the agreement will still require approval from the judge.


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7Continents September 12, 2023

Being a medical provider myself, the fact that we can take better care of more difficult situations allowing those in that situation to travel is a double edged sword. Being closer to the mainstream is better for recovery and life, but the onus on the rest of us to adapt is much stronger and in a lot of cases, not possible. I would not expect a common carrier to be responsible for someone trach and wheelchair dependent. 

AllanJ September 8, 2023

Were staff acting too roughly? Like tugging on cords or hoses, or bumping a wheelchair over a slight obstruction instead of maneuvering a little more to go around the bend smoothly?Was management too strict on policies and procedures that cuase employees to cut corners with customers to look better to their supervisors?

SamirD August 30, 2023

Something tells me that this type of precedent for what has always been a 'best effort' free service will pretty much eliminate the service.  Air staff are not medical staff and if one needs medical level care, then you should be using medjets for travel.  And I say this after caring for my mom with ALS and my dad who was undergoing chemo before covid took him.