Man Sues United for Refusing to Divert Plane for Medical Emergency

May 25, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A man is suing United Airlines after the crew on his flight to Rome (FCO) refused to land the plane for him to obtain treatment for his acute pancreatitis.

Lewis Christman and his wife Roseanne were flying with United in May 2016 from Chicago (ORD) to Rome (FCO). In Christman’s complaint against the airline, he alleges that he suffered such severe pain and nausea that he was unable to sit up straight. Instead, Christman says that he was forced to curl up on the galley floor in a fetal position.

As reported by Bloomberg, Christman was hospitalized in Rome and then in the US for months before requiring surgery. In his complaint filed on May 17 in Cook County, Illinois, Christman alleges that the crew should have landed the plane.

“When there is an emergency situation with someone who was as sick as Mr. Christman was, United Airlines has an obligation to land the plane, and get him to the emergency room as quickly as possible,” said David Axelrod, a lawyer for Christman.

Christman claims that the flight crew was ill-prepared for his in-flight medical emergency. At first, he claims, the crew did not offer him assistance and couldn’t find pain medication. Then, Christman claims, the crew declined a recommendation from a doctor on board to divert the flight. Finally, Christman claims that the crew failed to alert a ground team, resulting in an even further delay in receiving treatment upon landing.

Ultimately, Christman says that he was given a business-class seat. The couple are alleging negligence and loss of consortium, and are seeking at least $100,000 in damages.

“We are aware of the suit and are looking into the matter,” said Erin Benson Scharra, a spokeswoman for United.

Christman says that by the time the flight landed, he was told that his pancreatitis had become necrotic, or seriously infected. After spending several days in a hospital in Rome, Christman was advised by doctors that he was too ill to fly home commercially. So, he and his wife flew back to Chicago on a chartered Air Ambulance in June 2016. There, he stayed at a hospital for three months and underwent surgery.

This lawsuit is the latest in a string of public relations issues for United, beginning in 2017 with the Dr. Dao dragging incident. Following several other high-profile incidents, such as the death of a dog in an overhead bin, United hired former Obama administration press secretary Josh Earnest as its senior vice president and chief communications officer.

Christman’s lawsuit comes about one month after the family of a South Carolina woman sued American Airlines for a woman’s wrongful death.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.