David Dao: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

David Dao (Twitter/Instagram)

The man who was forcibly dragged off of a United Airlines flight has been identified as David Dao, a doctor, professional poker player and father of five originally from Vietnam who was once convicted of trading drugs for sex as part of a downfall that derailed his medical career.

The Louisville Courier-Journal and USA Today confirmed his identity and that he lives in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Dao, 69, was on his way from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to Louisville when the incident took place. It was captured on video by nearby passengers and led to outrage and United eventually apologizing for how it all played out.

One of Dao’s attorneys, Tom Demetrio, provided an update on his client’s condition at a press conference April 13. He did so alongside one of Dao’s five children, Crystal. He said that Dao suffered a “significant” concussion, a “serious” broken nose and the loss of his two front teeth as a result of the incident.

Demetrio added that Dao was discharged from a Chicago hospital April 12 and he will have to undergo reconstructive surgery in order to repair it. Watch the press conference in the video below:

Initially, United insinuated that flight 3411 was “overbooked.” However, United spokesman Jonathan Guerin told USA Today that was not the case. He said that all of the 70 seats on the plane were filled, but that didn’t make it over capacity.

Instead, a regional affiliate that was operating the flight — Republic Airlines — opted to move four of its passengers because four crew members were considered “must-ride passengers.”

Dao is a doctor who studied at a medical school in Saigon, Vietnam. He’s a father of five and a grandfather. Four of his five kids are doctors and his wife, Teresa, is a pediatrician.

On April 13, United issued a new statement expressing their concern for Dao and how the incident played out. The company promised to take “immediate action” to fix what’s “broken.”

We continue to express our sincerest apology to Dr. Dao. We cannot stress enough that we remain steadfast in our commitment to make this right.
This horrible situation has provided a harsh learning experience from which we will take immediate, concrete action. We have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. First, we are committing that United will not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from our flights unless it is a matter of safety and security. Second, we’ve started a thorough review of policies that govern crew movement, incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. Third, we will fully review and improve our training programs to ensure our employees are prepared and empowered to put our customers first. Our values – not just systems – will guide everything we do. We’ll communicate the results of our review and the actions we will take by April 30. United CEO Oscar Munoz and the company called Dr. Dao on numerous occasions to express our heartfelt and deepest apologies.

On April 27, Dao and his attorneys announced they have reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount with United.

See below for the full statement released by the law firm:


Dao had his medical license suspended for more than 10 years for illegally prescribing patients with painkillers. He was sentenced to probation, avoiding a two-year prison sentence he could have served.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Dao Suffered a Concussion, Lost Teeth & a Broken Nose After He Was Removed From the Plane

David Dao and his wife Teresa with their two grandchildren (Instagram)

On the plane, which was at capacity, United Airlines staff asked for volunteers to re-book their flight for the next afternoon because other crew members needed to board.

The airline said that it offered “up to $1,000 in compensation” if someone would accept. Nobody ended up coming forward, so United staff said it would select four passengers randomly to exit the plane. Dao was one of the four, and officials approached him “more than one time” to come off of the plane, to which he refused and “became more disruptive and belligerent,” United said in an internal email to employees.

The airline said its agents “were left with no choice” except to call Chicago Aviation Police to get Dao off of the flight. When they arrived, security officers were unable to get Dao to cooperate with their instructions and physically removed him through the aisle.

In the scuffle, Dao’s face struck an arm rest and his mouth became bloodied. A short time after officials got him off the plane, he returned to the cabin and ran to the back, holding onto an object and pled to let him go home.

Officials eventually subdued Dao and took him off the flight. The flight was delayed about three hours because of the incident.

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2. Dao Was Convicted of Prescribing a Patient With Painkillers In Exchange for Sex in Louisville

In 2003, Dao was charged with 98 counts of illegally prescribing and trafficking prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone, Oxycontin and Percocet. You can read the criminal complaint above, along with other documents related to the case and Dao’s medical license.

He was a co-defendant in the case along with Brian D. Case, who was indicted on 33 felony drug charges.

Dao was caught on surveillance video meeting patients and supplying them with painkillers, mainly hydrocodone.

According to a criminal complaint on at least one occasion, Dao received $174 in exchange for the pills in an unlabeled bottle. From 2001-2003, Dao “unlawfully prescribed controlled substances” to patients, court documents said.

The criminal complaint in the case went onto say that Dao would solicit homosexual relations with a male patient in exchange for a prescription for hydrocodone. The meetings occurred at motels and it was found that Dao had written out personal checks to the patient on more than one occasion.

The patient was arrested at a Walgreens Pharmacy and brought in for an interview, where he confessed about his and Dao’s relationship. The man was brought into police custody because he was calling the pharmacy to order prescriptions and saying that he was in fact Dao, picking up prescriptions under numerous aliases.

Dao was eventually arrested by police at a hotel room in Jefferson County on July 25, 2003. The room was under surveillance by the Louisville Police Department and Dao was seen with the male patient without a shirt on and with his pants undone. The patient gave Dao money for a bottle of pills and police stormed the room to arrest him upon the exchange.

Dao was officially charged with unlawful prescribing, trafficking in a controlled substance and complicity in obtaining drugs by fraud and deceit and pled not guilty to the charges.

Some of those charges ended up being dismissed, but Dao was eventually convicted on six counts. He was found guilty of complicity in obtaining a controlled substance (hydrocodone) by fraud and sentenced to two years, eight months in prison, a sentence that was suspended, and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

In addition to those convictions, Dao was indicted in Nelson County with eight felony counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and deceit and eight more of complicity to obtain controlled substances by fraud and deceit. Those charges were all dismissed in April 2005.

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3. Before His Drug Convictions, Dao, Who Fled Vietnam to Come to America, Treated Patients at a Hospital & Owned His Own Practice

David Dao, his grandaughter and his wife, Teresa (Instagram)

Dao is a doctor that specializes in Pulmonary Disease. According to the criminal complaint, he spent time working at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown prior to his convictions.

An employee from the hospital later clarified in a statement to Heavy that Dao “had privileges to treat his own patients at the hospital from July 1986 to October 2003.” While doing so, he opened up a medical practice alongside his wife.

Before that, though, he studied at a medical school in Vietnam before he was forced to flee the country. He was in the Vietnamese military in 1974, but never saw action in the Vietnam War.

Dao eventually fled the country in 1975 when Saigon fell, traveling on a boat. Demetrio said in a press conference that being dragged down the aisle of the United flight “was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced in leaving Vietnam.”

He finished his medical training in California before moving to Indiana in 1980. There, he worked at a prison in Michigan City but quit after one year when an inmate reportedly tried to strangle him with his own stethoscope.

Dao’s medical license was suspended on October 16, 2003 by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure because of his transgressions. He applied to have it completely reinstated in 2007, but the board shot it down.

It cited Dao’s practice as constituting “a danger to the health, welfare and safety of his patients or the general public.” The ruling added that it has “probable cause to believe that the physician has committed certain violations in the recent past that present probable cause to believe that (Dao) will commit similar violations in the near future.”

In order for it to get reinstated, Dao had to undergo extensive educational classes and evaluations by psychologists. Once he completed the required work, Dao applied for it to be reinstated again, and he was granted was partial renewal. On March 2, 2016, board chair C. William Briscoe agreed to allow Dao to resume his practice of medicine in Kentucky.

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4. One Patient Ended Up Working For Dao At His Practice & Quit Because of Sexual Advances Made By Him, He Said In a Criminal Complaint

A United Airlines flight. (Getty)

The main informant in the case — who wasn’t identified in the complaint — first met Dao in September 2000 as a patient. He had been having chest pains and was referred to Dao by another doctor.

Three months after the two met, Dao asked the male patient to be an office manager at his medical practice in Kentucky. He worked there for about six weeks, but eventually resigned because of sexual advances and harassment from Dao, a complaint said.

But instead of saying the actual reason he had quit, the patient instead wrote in his resignation letter that he quite for “personal reasons.”

But the relationship between Dao and the patient didn’t end there.

Once the former office manager left the business, the criminal complaint said Dao “intensely pursued him, calling many times a day and driving to (where he lived) to find him.”

Eventually, the two met each other once again for a period of six months. During that span, Dao wrote him personal checks to the former employee that totaled around $4,500 in addition to prescribing hydrocodone.

Dao’s wife eventually found out about the checks and assumed he was having an affair. As Dao’s wife continued her private investigation, the two stopped meeting for a brief amount of time. Soon enough, Dao paid off the former employee to keep quiet to his wife.

The patient said in an interview with authorities that he believed that Dao intended on getting him addicted to the painkillers so that he would keep coming back to meet with him.

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5. Dao Has Made More Than $234,000 Playing in World Series of Poker Tournaments & Pursued a Career as a Chef

In addition to being a doctor, Dao has also played in several professional poker tournaments affiliated with the World Series of Poker. He joined the poker circuit in July 2006 while his medical license was suspended.

In the past decade, Dao has career earnings of $234,664, according to the World Series of Poker’s website. He most recently played in the Horeshoe Tunica WSOP Circuit event in Mississippi on January 23, finishing 11th to win $1,191. His biggest win came in 2009 at the Harrah’s Tunica Circuit Championship event in Mississippi, where he won $117,744 by finishing in second place.

According to his biography on, Dao played poker “semi-seriously for about four years.”

In addition to his time at the poker table, Dao had an interest in being a chef and even attended a culinary school.

The publication below from Sullivan University in Kentucky stated that Dao had taken a “sabbatical from his busy medical practice” in 2004 to take up cooking.

It read that Dao had found a passion about food and preventing disease “instead of always treating the symptoms.”

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Read more about David Dao and the United Airlines incident in Spanish at

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  1. Well i guess this are all made up by United Airlines. this rich people can pay media and others to save their wealth.

  2. This is what’s know as character assassination. Doesn’t matter about his past, United Airlines should be held responsible for what happened to this man.

      • Not exactly sure what was so bad about his past, as I saw both negative and positives listed. I must admit my past was also mixed with negative and positive events as well. I still don’t want to be mistreated by an airline, though. Everyone can create their own pasts to look back on, but mistreating me in any way better not be in anyone’s negative past. If you cannot handle business in a correct manner and please your paying customers and still have a successful business, then maybe having the business isn’t such a good idea to begin with.

        I can see a few of the other comments being posted outside of this conversation, and as usual, people saying some pretty silly things. Yes, people can think, say, and believe what they wish, but the fact remains that this is not how paying customers should be treated by any reputable business. You can even take this back to the childhood days and ask “who started it?”

        If I pay to fly somewhere and I enter the plane and sit peacefully, not talking to or bothering anyone, then I’m approached by strangers for whatever reason, WHO started it and WHO created the possibility of whatever outcome that should unfold as a result to occur? Before answering the question, keep in mind that all I am doing in this scenario is paying for and boarding a flight that I’ve purchased AND NOTHING MORE. Regardless of whether or not the guy specifically boarded as I described or had a few friendly small talk sessions with people, HE was not the cause of the overall situation, as HE made no errors by booking, purchasing and boarding the flight he was allowed onto after booking and paying for it. However, HE was punished/inconvenienced because there wasn’t enough seats available on the plane for the airline to do whatever they wished to do with whatever people that day. The airline’s error created the possibility for the bad situation that occurred to occur. If it wasn’t an error, then that’s even WORSE.

        As a matter of fact, I think my comment deserves to be a regular comment and not just a reply comment!

        • Actually, some of the silly comments are IN this conversation. Fact still remains that his past has nothing to do with how he was treated due to the airline’s error. If we are going to start treating people anyhow because of their pasts, then let me know and all of you can comment about me when you see me on the news for treating certain people however I like to make things better or more convenient for myself or business plan and use their pasts to justify why it was ok to treat them that way.

      • It has everything to do with this Sexual Predatory JERK,who was a Danger to society and patients!! He is a Despicable Spoiled BRAT who knew Exactly what he was doing,screaming like a Baby to SUE later!!

          • In some situations, it makes logical common sense to look at the pure facts without getting emotion involved and go based strictly on the hard solid facts and the law of the land. However, in this case, although it is a fact that he didn’t respect compliance to laws and there are consequences when you do not obey laws, we still have to consider emotion – in regard to and in addition to the facts of the OVERALL SITUATION.

            THE FACT OF THE OVERALL SITUATION IS that the ENTIRE SITUATION was CAUSED by an error that was on UNITED’S SIDE.



            Not to mention that when you are kicking off or delaying paying customers, you never know WHO you are messing with or whose life/lives you could be destroying. In this case, it turned out to be a doctor who had patients to attend to. I just realized I am wasting my time typing when I have better things to do so I need to just let people think and believe what they wish. All I will say is if it were my job and financial life on the line when I was kicked off a flight I paid for because of the airline’s error causing me to miss an unapproved day off of work or if it was any of my relatives depending on a doctor who was blocked by some airline or whatever business from attending to the family member in the doctor’s office in a timely matter, then… (how can I put this delicately?) … you guy’s would surely be commenting about me on the news shortly afterwards because my reaction to that would not be respectful or civil, and I would definitely give ALL of you something to talk about.

    • I disagree. He shouldn’t have made a scene and just listened to the airline staff. He was being such a disobedient drama queen, just trying to cause a media-sensational riot. Just pathetic IMAO

      • Never mind had they rented a car for their employees and not drug a paying customer off the plane, there’d have been no scene. As for pathetic drama queen, reread your comment.

  3. Why is this any of your or mine as far as this goes , business.What this man did or done years ago is his problem. He did not deserve to be treated like that.

    • BECAUSE Dr Dao insisted on INSERTING himself into public view by FIGHTING THE POLICE.

      Which he did. Anyone who says “I’m not going to jail” IS GOING TO GO TO JAIL.

      • Of course he didn’t fight with the police and you don’t go to jail just for saying you’re not going, but when you’ve got nothing, what’s a few alternative facts?

      • It’s not the same guy. He is part of our Vietnamese community and we happen actually to know the difference between the two people. People like you just want to make him (and our community) look bad.. and think it justifies how he was treated and how Asian people can be treated.

        • there you go playing the race card again. this man is mentally unbalanced ,has been for some time. who in their right mind would believe their best interest is in fighting with the police, putting the passengers in danger? from the comments above, there are a lot of unbalanced people out there.

      • Settle down, child. Even if he is the “so-called doctor,” it’s not relevant and he did not lose his license, it was suspended and has since been reinstated.

  4. Don’t get distracted by this article trying to make this guy seem like the bad guy. United Airlines knows they messed up and are using money to pay journalists to help people forget or put shade on the actual issue. UA shouldn’t have treated this man this way. They could of asked someone else if they were willing to give up their seat, instead they felt they were entitled to continue to “make” this man get up. Security reacted terribly but how many times do you think they get called for issues as minor as this could of been. They are used to being rough with actual bad people or crimminals. Just know what articles are cover ups or fake news… media really runs the majority because YOU allow it.

    • Oh, he’s not a ‘bad guy’, he is a TERRORIST who rushed BACK onto an aircraft he was just ejected from!

      Nothing to see here, he committed no CRIME, just because the BLM / “Hands up – don’t shoot” (false meme/fake news) crowd says so.

      • When did he become a terrorist? The way you are defending UA indicates some affiliation? He already had boarded the plane and was seated,he basically owned that space until his journey was complete so UA did a displicable deed. He pleaded to be taken home. UA could have placed the crew on another flight, or has UA forgotten how these crew get paid?

  5. In no way is United’s treatment of Dr. David Dao, 69, acceptable. Is United participating in a fascist xenophobic “Make America Great” program that is now raising its ugly head where Muslims, Mexicans and other Hispanics, Asians, Africans… (just about all persons who are not of European heritage) …are to be treated as less than human beings? Are the gas chambers coming next? United CEO Oscar Munoz must resign now! The three security guards, who assaulted Dr, Dao, and the four flight crew who initiated the assault, should be fired and given the maximum jail penalties.

    • Maybe you should also comment on “the make South Africa black” racist government who discriminate against whites by using the afirmatives action black empowerment excuse, however the South African government is encouraging discrimination against the minority whites by locking them out from gaining employment, you seem to be standing up for minorities, or an’t white people important when they are a minority?

  6. It is hard to believe that nobody thinks this guy is not TOTALLY TO BLAME for what happened to him on the plane. He was totally inappropriate and passive-aggressive. He forced them to physically remove him from the plane by his refusal to leave. They clearly were not forceful enough considering that he got back on the plane. It sickens me that the three security personnel were put on leave.

    • I agree…this now sets a precedence for anyone who decides they don’t want to follow instructions from law enforcement….I feel for police and now flight crews…people have become a bunch of assholes…Do I think UA could have handled this situation better…absolutely, but defiance of law enforcement is scary…

  7. United didn’t assault that guy, O’Hare security rent-a-cop ape did. United, Delta, American all use Republic as a feeder, all had the same procedures, all would have called for law enforcement expecting a real officer, any could have had that moron show up.

  8. All of this reminds me of when a rape victim’s history is dredged up and they try to use it against them. NEVERTHELESS – he did not deserve to be treated as he was by United Airlines. And that is the bottom line.

  9. It is clear that Dao has problems. Serious problems which were not dealt with by the medical board or his family. It is evident he was acting out.He likely by statements pushed for action. Action that took place was wrong. But now we know that this is a dangerous man practicingredients medicine .his family failed to control him with his perversions.He is pathological and is a risk.the force is its own issue.psychopaths are real and many of them are also physicians. Police need psychological testing before getting jobs….and physicians also. I am writing about psychopaths in medicine. This story far to many want to be blind to reality that we have sick people in society….there is far more to this story.

  10. Dear Editor,
    It seems that the media is trying to make United Airline CEO Oscar Munoz the bad guy regarding the ejecting the of infamous Dr. David Dao of Elizabethtown, Ky who refused to get off an overbooked plane. Dr. Dao had his medical license suspended for about 10 years for illegally prescribing painkillers, including to a patient in exchange for sex. I wonder if Dr. Dao paid income taxes on the $234,664 he claimed to have won playing poker while he was suspended.
    Anyone who flew in the time line where Dr. Dao was disruptive knows that all of the airlines were trying to compensate for Delta Airlines scheduling disaster. Without the minimum legal requirement for aircrews, airliners can’t fly. So the getting crew members to the aircraft deficient in staff would allow hundreds and hundreds of innocent passengers to make their flight. Dr. Dao could have driven back to Ky. from Chicago in 4.5 hours for the “sake” of his patients. But No! He was willing to delay “his” plane and the plane/planes which needed crews and have his 15 mins of fame. All I know is that United Airlines accommodated me after I missed their flight thanks to Delta screwing up. They did not have to do it as I did not have a refundable ticket. But they did which demonstrate sense of corporate compassion. You know had Dr. Dao’s plane crashed with the loss of everybody how many of you would have voiced a protest anywhere? It would be old news within 48 hours. Dr. Dao, get a life.

    • couldn’t say it better, this man is a criminal, I’m sure if there was a case / MONEY to be gotten for the famous Thomas Dimetri, it would have moved forward. remember!! ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY!!!

      • As the man paid his debt to society and was reinstated as a doctor, you could say it better unless suffering from an intellectual deficiency. Dismissing him as a criminal is like saying because, you and the OP, Joe Dupont, were once ignorant children, your both ignoramuses now.

        And if United had done to me what they did to him, you’d better believe

  11. Nothing about the mans past life is important, what is important is that united hired thugs to beat a 69 year old man. trying to ruin his reputation does nothing to dispel that fact. United sucks.

  12. And what has all of this to do with the fact that United Airlines kicked with violence a customer with a paid ticket , sitting in the seat he paid for, from the plane?

  13. These ‘negative’ infos about Dr Dao’s private life put some cold water on the incident. But he’s NOT entitled to be KO for that and he’s also entitled to receive a huge compensation$ from UA. The kind of violence the Police use, could kill or even worse, crippled for life a fragile innocent person. Dao is still a practicing doctor, his wife also and 4 of his 5 kids are doctors. Even if he illegaly prescribeb pain killers, would you say that his medical accomplishments during all those years of practice compensate? Considering the whole thing, is he doing more good or bad to society ?