United Reaches Settlement With Passenger David Dao

The Kentucky physician attracted widespread public sympathy when other passengers took video of aviation police violently dragging him from a plane.

Published Apr 27, 2017

 (Sorbis /
Image Via Sorbis /

United Airlines has quickly and "amicably" settled a lawsuit brought against them by David Dao, a Kentucky physician who was filmed being violently dragged off a plane.

Dao's attorneys said in a 27 April 2017 statement:

Dr. David Dao has reached an amicable settlement with United Airlines for the injuries he received in his April 9th ordeal, which was captured on video and viewed worldwide. The settlement was negotiated by Dr. Dao’s lawyers, Thomas A. Demetrio of Corboy & Demetrio and Stephen L. Golan of Golan Christie Taglia, and the legal representatives for United. A condition of the settlement includes a provision that the amount remain confidential. Dr. Dao and his attorneys agreed to that condition.

Demetrio praised Mr. Oscar Munoz:

‘Mr. Munoz said he was going to do the right thing, and he has. In addition, United has taken full responsibility for what happened on Flight 3411, without attempting to blame others, including the City of Chicago. For this acceptance of corporate accountability, United is to be applauded.’

The settlement was reached on the same day United Airlines announced multiple positive changes to improve the customer experience. According to Demetrio, ‘Dr. Dao has become the unintended champion for the adoption of changes which will certainly help improve the lives of literally millions of travelers.’ In addition, Demetrio stated, ‘I sincerely hope that all other airlines make similar changes and follow United’s lead in helping to improve the passenger flying experience with an emphasis on empathy, patience, respect and dignity.'

Dao attracted widespread outrage and sympathy when fellow passengers posted videos online of him being dragged off the flight by airport police at Chicago O'Hare airport. The flight's destination was Louisville, Kentucky. In the videos, Dao appeared catatonic with blood dripping out of his mouth.

Dao had been bumped from the flight so that United could accommodate crew members who needed to transfer to Louisville for another flight, but refused to leave his seat, saying he had patients to see early the next morning. In a brief statement released on their web site, a United spokesperson said:

We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do.

The statement did not say how much the settlement was for.

On 17 October 2017 the Chicago Department of Aviation announced it had fired the two officers in the video seen dragging Dao. A third who was under suspension in relation to the incident resigned. The terminations were in accordance with findings released in a quarterly report by the City of Chicago's Office of Inspector General.

In response to the terminations, Dao's attorney Thomas Demetrio said in a statement:

It is unfortunate the conduct of these two City aviation employees has resulted in their losing their jobs.  However, this is not a day of celebration for Dr. Dao, who is neither vindictive nor happy about Mr. Ferguson’s findings.  There is a lesson to be learned here for police officers at all levels.  Do not state something that is clearly contrary to video viewed by the world.  But for the video, the filed report stating that only “minimal” force was used would have been unnoticed.  Simply put, don’t make stuff up.  Also, the Inspector General’s report should become the poster child for why passengers should always maintain the right to videotape mistreatment of all kinds.  Our cell phones are the best deterrent to ensure mistreatment becomes a rarity.”


Victor, Daniel, and Drew, Christopher. "United Airlines Reaches Settlement With Passenger Dragged Off Plane."   The New York Times. 27 April 2017.

Muoio, Danielle. "We Know More About the United Incident Where a Passenger Was Forcibly Dragged Off a Plane."   Business Insider.  24 April 2017.

Tovey, Alan. "United Airlines Boss: 'Too Early to Tell' If David Dao PR Nightmare Will Damage Us."   The Telegraph. 18 April 2017.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.

Article Tags

Read More

a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.


Ad-Free Browsing on
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime