United Airlines settles for $30 million with the family of a quadriplegic man who was left brain damaged after he was ‘violently’ moved while deplaning, lawsuit says – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

United Airlines settles for $30 million with the family of a quadriplegic man who was left brain damaged after he was ‘violently’ moved while deplaning, lawsuit says

A United Airlines plane.

Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

United Airlines agreed to settle a lawsuit for $30 million, Reuters reported.It relates to a man in a wheelchair who was left brain damaged and unable to speak, court documents show.NJ Foster went into cardiac arrest after being “violently” moved while deplaning, the suit says.

United Airlines has settled a lawsuit with the family of a man in a wheelchair, who was left brain-damaged after suffering a heart attack when ground staff contracted by United helped him deplane, court filings show.

The settlement is worth $30 million, around $12 million of which is expected to pay for legal costs, according to Reuters, which first reported the story.

Court filings viewed by Insider show a settlement was disclosed on Tuesday after one day of trial, ending a legal action that began more than four years ago.

NJ Foster, a quadriplegic 21-year-old who had been using a wheelchair, ventilator, and tracheal tube, was with his family returning from a funeral in February 2019. Per court documents, the incident occurred when the family was disembarking a United Express flight from Houston, Texas to Monroe Airport in Louisiana – this was the second leg of their journey. United Express is part of United Airlines.

The complaint says that typically, four to six people helped Foster deplane, but only one flight attendant was present initially. The agent called for assistance and a woman who identified herself as a “supervisor” turned up with an aisle chair. It is not clear from the filing whether this agent was employed directly by the airline or subcontracted. After the family protested and said they would need additional help, the agent said: “Fine. Do it yourself, then … I’m out,” according to the complaint.

A baggage claim handler employed by one of United’s contractors then secured Foster into the aisle chair with one cross-chest restraint, even though additional leg and lap straps were previously used, per the lawsuit.

Foster’s aisle chair was “aggressively pushed,” causing him to twice slip over the side of the chair before being propped up by his father. According to the court filing, the contracted agent then “forcefully” pushed the chair, making it move “violently.”

Foster then told his mother he couldn’t breathe, and she called for a doctor. Another agent, employed by United and working at the airport gate, “giggled” and told the doctor that no help was needed before Foster went into cardiac arrest, the suit says.

After his dad performed CPR, Foster arrived at the hospital in a coma having suffered “significant” brain damage due to lack of oxygen, per the complaint.

Now aged 26, Foster cannot speak or eat solid foods, and is expected to live to age 31, down from 39 before the incident, Reuters reported.

“Our top priority is to provide a safe journey for all our customers, especially those who require additional assistance or the use of a wheelchair,” United said in a statement seen by Reuters. “We are pleased to share that this matter has settled.”

United Airlines declined to comment when contacted by Insider.

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