The Latest on #BumpGate: The Victim’s Daughter and Lawyer Speak Out

Apr 13, 2017

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Since the #BumpGate incident first surfaced earlier this week, there have been plenty of questions circulating. Among them: How are the victim, Dr. David Dao’s, injuries? Will there be a lawsuit? Who will speak out and when? What will United (and the airline industry as a whole) do about situations like this?

Today, Dao’s daughter, Crystal Dao, 33, appeared on a press conference live feed along with two lawyers, including Thomas Demetrio, who are representing her father to address the situation. Here’s what we found out from the press conference:

  • According to Demetrio, Dao, 69, sustained several injuries from the incident, including a significant concussion, a “serious” broken nose, injury to the sinuses and the loss of two front teeth. He will undergo reconstructive surgery as a result of the nose and sinus injuries. Dao was discharged from a Chicago hospital late last night.
  • Demetrio indicated that there could be a lawsuit and blamed both United and the City of Chicago for the incident. He said they aren’t ready to sue yet — they have two years to legally file suit. When ready, the suit be filed in a state court in Cook County. He doesn’t believe this will be a class action lawsuit.
  • Demetrio doesn’t believe the incident was motivated by race. He believes it could have happened to anyone.
  • Demetrio confirmed that it wasn’t a matter of overbooking. Rather, four employees had to get to Louisville the following day.
  • Dao’s wife wasn’t bumped from the flight, but she was told to leave the plane when Dao was bumped.
  • Dao was making a connection in Chicago after a trip to California. It was vacation, not business.
  • Crystal Dao, one of five children, said that the family was “shocked, horrified and sickened” to learn what had happened. She said that her dad is healing, and that each member of her family’s lives have been “uprooted” since Sunday morning.
  • According to Demetrio, neither he nor his firm have heard from the City of Chicago or United Airlines. He said that CEO Oscar Munoz misspoke in his GMA interview when he said that United had reached out and didn’t hear a response. They aren’t hoping to hear from Munoz — he’d rather Munoz change the culture at United Airlines. However, Demetrio and the family accept United’s public apology, but they think it was staged.
  • When Dao ran back on the plane, he’d suffered a concussion. He has no memory of going back on the plane for the second time.
  • According to Demetrio, Dao left Vietnam in 1975 on a boat bound for the US. He said that Dao told him that “being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced in leaving Vietnam.”
  • Demetrio doesn’t believe United offered enough compensation and suggested that if United had offered $1,300 someone maybe would have volunteered.
  • Dao will speak to the public but no timeline has been confirmed.
  • According to Demetrio, Dao has no hope to ever be on a plane again.
  • Demetrio acknowledged Dao has had some “serious bumps in the road,” with regard to his past as reported by the media. However, he says that those incidents happened so long ago that they have nothing to do with what happened Sunday. If this case goes in front of a jurors, they’ll be instructed to disregard his past.

Meanwhile, a few minutes after the press conferences concluded, United released a statement of its own, insisting that Munoz and the airline have tried to contact Dao numerous times:

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 12.46.27 PM

The overarching message of the press conference was that procedures in the airline industry need to change. Demetrio said that carriers “have the highest duty of care to provide protection and safety to fare-paying passengers.” He said that there’s clearly a culture of disrespect and rudeness.

Demetrio said that in the short-term, airlines need to figure out how to change their overbooking policies to become more customer-friendly. He hopes that Dao’s incident will inspire airlines to work to change how they treat passengers.

Click here for more United Bumpgate coverage.

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