Attorney for United Passenger David Dao Also Representing Mother on American Airlines Flight: 'We Need Fairness'
"He's hurt," Chicago attorney Thomas Demetrio told the Today show of his client, David Dao. "He's of the mindset this is an example and the American Airlines incident is example of why we need fairness, dignity and being treated right."
The attorney representing United Airlines passenger David Dao, who says he now represents the still-unidentified American Airlines passenger whose stroller was “violently” taken from her by a flight attendant on April 21, told the Today show Monday morning he will be filing a lawsuit against United.
“He’s hurt,” Chicago attorney Thomas Demetrio told the morning show of Dao. “He’s of the mindset this is an example and the American Airlines incident is example of why we need fairness, dignity and being treated right.”
The interview was the first public remarks Demetrio has made since the April 13th news conference he held with Crystal Pepper, one of Dao’s five children. Dao, a Kentucky physician, suffered a concussion, a broken nose, lost two front teeth and needs facial reconstruction, his attorney said.
In a statement to PEOPLE regarding the pending lawsuit, United Airlines said: “We cannot apologize enough to Dr. Dao for the shameful way in which he was treated. This should never have happened and we are dedicated to making this right, so it does not happen again.”
“We’re hoping that Dr. Dao being taken off that plane like a sack of potatoes is going to resonate with people, and this latest incident with American Airlines will resonate with people,” attorney Demetrio told the show.
On April 9, Dao, 69, was one of four passengers asked to leave an oversold Louisville-bound flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport so airline employees could board the plane. The altercation left Dao bloodied and bruised as officials with the Chicago Department of Aviation dragged him through the aisle of the aircraft. While three aviation officers were suspended, it took United several days to apologize to Dao.
On April 21, American Airlines announced it had removed a flight attendant from duty after he was seen “violently” taking a stroller from a mother before takeoff in San Francisco. A fellow passenger had posted a video of the incident on her Facebook page earlier that day.
Demetrio says he now represents that passenger as well but, as of now, only plans to file suit against United.
“The video that we just saw is a microcosm of the entire problem,” he told the Today show. “We’ve got a flight attendant out of control. We’ve got a distressed mother. We’ve got a passenger trying to protect that mother.”
Two other passengers, including the woman who shot video of the incident, spoke to a Dallas TV station about what they witnessed.
“A baby almost got hurt. That’s what just fired me up, so that was it. I don’t want to make a big deal about it,” Tony Fierro, who was identified as the man who approached the attendant after the incident, said about the situation to WFAA-TV.
Added Sulin Adyanthaya, who shot the video: “He was very upset. He grabbed it and just pulled it off, sort of violently yanked it, and then stormed off the plane with it.”
American Airlines issued an apology following the incident.
“We have seen the video and have already started an investigation to obtain the facts,” the airline said in a statement released the same night the video was posted to Facebook. “What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers. We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident.”