United Airlines reach $30M settlement with family of quadriplegic man

United Airlines settlement
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United Airlines has agreed to pay $30 million to the family of a quadriplegic man who was a customer on the carrier’s flight. 

The financial settlement to Nathaniel Foster Jr’s family was announced at San Francisco federal court on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, after just one day in court.  

The family had claimed that Nathaniel Foster Jr, who required the use of a wheelchair, ventilator and tracheal tube, was not given the “standard of care owed to disabled passengers” when deplaned from a flight.  

According to the court papers, Foster Jr and his family had arrived on February 8, 2019, at Monroe Regional Airport (MLU) on a United Express flight. 

As Foster Jr was taken off the flight in a wheelchair his body “jerked forward and back” due to a ramp supervisor “aggressively” pushing him.  

According to the complaint, Foster Jr’s mother heard him whisper “I can’t breathe” and help offered by a doctor was not accepted by a gate agent.  

Foster Jr then suffered a heart attack, which ultimately led to him being unable to speak or eat solid foods. The 26-year-old now has “significant” brain damage. 

Reuters said that the settlement needs approval from a judge and is “fair and reasonable” according to the plaintiff. 

Of the $30 million settlement, around $12 million will be used for legal fees, and $3 million for other costs incurred.  

“Our top priority is to provide a safe journey for all our customers, especially those who require additional assistance or the use of a wheelchair. We are pleased to share that this matter has settled,” United Airlines said in a statement to Reuters. 

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