United Airlines is set to pay a $30 million settlement to the family of a quadriplegic man who was injured getting off a flight to Monroe, Louisiana a few years ago.
Reuters reported that the accident involved Nathaniel Foster Jr., now 26, a man who was using a wheelchair, a ventilator and an endotracheal tube in February 2019.
The family accused a supervisor who was helping Foster of “violently” pushing him off the plane, according to the report. This caused his body to jerk forward, then backward, and finally he whispered, “I can’t breathe.”
It prompted his mum to get help, but she said the airline gate agent “laughed” and said, “We’ve got this” when a health professional offered to help, at the outlet. The family alleged that Foster had a heart attack, which left him with significant brain damage.
According to CBS News, citing the lawsuit, the situation caused Foster to be unable to eat solid foods or speak and reduced his life expectancy from 39 to 31.5 years.
When traveling, four to six staff members usually help Foster get off the plane. But that day, only one person was originally present when they reached their destination, the outlet reported. When booking the flight, Foster’s mother said she disclosed Foster’s condition to the airline.
“Based on repeated assurances by United Airlines of its ability to provide safe transportation for her son, Mrs. Foster purchased tickets for her family.” press release Family lawyers said. “Upon arriving in Louisiana, after a period of delay, the agents were not prepared to deal with New J. Foster’s deplaning.”
“NJ Foster remains in a continuing state of vegetation today,” the statement added.
According to reports, the settlement was reached on Tuesday, one day after the trial. “We are pleased to announce that this matter has been resolved,” the airline said in a statement to Reuters.
The settlement will see $12 million set aside for legal fees and $3 million for other expenses.
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