Officer Who Dragged Dr. Dao off United Flight Is Suing Airline, Chicago

Apr 11, 2018

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James Long, the ex-Chicago Aviation Police officer who infamously dragged a passenger off of an overbooked United flight at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), is suing United Airlines, Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans and the City of Chicago over the incident, which happened almost exactly one year ago.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Long says he was not properly trained to handle the April 9, 2017, situation on board a United flight. The incident occurred when cabin crew on board a flight from Chicago (ORD) to Louisville, Kentucky (SDF) dispatched for airport aviation police when two passengers, Dr. David Dao and his wife, refused to get off the plane after they were bumped off the overbooked flight.

Long was one of several officers who responded to the call, which ended in him dragging Dao out of his seat. As a result of the incident, Dao ended up with a broken nose, two missing teeth and a concussion. Long and another officer were fired.

Now, Long says he was unfairly fired. The lawsuit also claims that Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans slandered Long when she posted on social media that Long and the other officers did not behave appropriately and that they were not armed for “good reasons.” (The dragging incident occurred amid a push to arm the aviation police force).

“These false statements imply that Long was not acting in his capacity as a police officer,” the lawsuit complaint claims.

The lawsuit charges negligence and defamation, and Long “is seeking action because he feels he was doing his duty at the time Dr. Dao was escorted off the plane,” his attorney Anne Beckert told ABC 7 Chicago. “He was not in the wrong. But if he did do something wrong it was because the City of Chicago failed to properly train him.”

A request for comment from the Chicago Department of Aviation was not immediately returned. Dr. Dao’s attorney had no comment on the new lawsuit.

A United spokesperson told TPG that the company has not yet been served with the suit and therefore was unable to comment.

Beckert told Law360 that Long has been unemployed since being fired following the incident last year. He had worked for the Chicago Department of Aviation since 2015.

Featured image by Jayse D. Anspach / Twitter.

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