The lawyer for David Dao, the doctor dragged off an United Airlines plane in what has become a national incident, described Dao’s injuries in detail for the first time, and they are more significant than was previously known.
Dao has found himself an instant internet celebrity as a result of the incident, which landed him in the hospital. His attorney has taken steps to sue the airline, and his lawyers and daughter, Crystal, held a press conference on April 13 after launching the first legal filing.
According to attorney Tom Demetrio, who is a well-known personal injury attorney in Chicago who has earned millions in verdicts, Dao, 69, suffered the following injuries:
A significant concussion as a result of disembarking the plane.
A “serious broken nose, injury to the sinuses.” He will need reconstructive surgery to repair his broken nose, said Demetrio.
That’s not all, either. “He lost two front teeth. He’s shaken,” said Demetrio, who said Dao suffered the injuries as he was dragged off the United flight by security, a scene captured in multiple citizen videos that have gone viral on the internet. Demetrio specializes in pain and suffering cases involving airline tragedies and workplace injuries.
“He will have medical treatment for some time,” Demetrio said. He said that Dao’s prognosis was not clear, and he needed to speak to Dao’s doctors still because the injuries are so recent.
“We owe each other an ordinary care standard,” Demetrio said on April 13 at the press conference. Airlines have the “highest” requirement of care for their paying passengers, he said “That was not done in this case,” Demetrio said, with Dao’s daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper, sitting next to him (She described her family’s horror and pain at seeing how Dao was treated.)
“I would defy anyone” to say there was no unreasonable “force or violence” used to get Dao to disembark the plane, Demetrio said. He said he had received many calls from employees and former employees from United, as well as other passengers, who have empathy for Dao.
He said people want “dignity” from airlines and that airlines have bullied people over the years. Dao understands “he’s the guy. He’s the guy to stand up for passengers going forward,” Demetrio said. The lawyer said that he received an email from someone calling Dao the “Asian version of Rosa Parks,” but the attorney said he didn’t think what happened to Dao was the result of the doctor’s race, adding that he thought it could happen to anyone.
Instead, Demetrio couched what happened to Dao in the context of a broader culture of disrespect from airlines to passengers.
Dao is a Vietnamese Refugee, and Demetrio said that Dao considered what happened to him on the airplane more “harrowing” than fleeing Vietnam.
The only images the public has had of Dao since he was pulled off the flight by security: The viral videos from other passengers that generated international outrage, with many expressing support for Dao, and some family photos posted by Dao’s daughter on Instagram. Dao was not at the press conference, and Demetrio said he is in a secure location and implored the media to leave the doctor alone.
The 69-year-old Kentucky resident has an attorney who filed the first legal salvo in the incident on April 12, although he hasn’t yet filed a lawsuit.
You can watch the full news conference in which the injuries were discussed here: