US Airline To Pay $30 Million After Deboarding Paralysed Passenger

United Airlines has agreed to a $30 million settlement with the family of Nathaniel Foster Jr., a quadriplegic man who suffered severe brain damage during a traumatic deboarding incident in 2019. The incident, reported by CBS News, has left Foster paralyzed and with a reduced life expectancy of 31.5 years, down from 39.

The family alleged that United Airlines failed to meet the standard of care owed to disabled passengers. According to their lawsuit, an airline employee forcefully pushed Foster’s wheelchair, causing him to jerk and leading to irreversible brain damage. Foster, who relied on a wheelchair, ventilator, and tracheal tube, was en route to a family funeral when the incident occurred.

In distress, Foster expressed, “I can’t breathe.” Despite his pleas, a gate agent’s response was reportedly dismissive. Subsequently, Foster suffered a heart attack and was found to have no pulse.

The lawsuit drew attention to concerns about proper care for disabled passengers during air travel. Foster’s mother had received assurances from United Airlines’ accessibility desk, promising adequate assistance for her son’s boarding and deboarding. However, upon landing in Louisiana, insufficient support was available, with only one flight attendant present despite the necessity for a larger team given Foster’s condition.

Following a one-day trial, the settlement was agreed upon. The allocated $30 million includes $12 million for legal fees and an additional $3 million for supplementary expenses. The case highlights the vital need for airlines to prioritize the well-being and care of disabled passengers, adhering to established standards and ensuring a safe and respectful travel experience for everyone.