Subscribe Now

travelers today

Home » News

Paralyzed Veteran Sues United Airlines & Airport Workers After Suffering Injuries & Being Denied Help

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Nov 15, 2012 04:44 PM EST

Text Size: A A A

United Airlines
United Airlines has decided to honor the free, $5 and $10 tickets that it sold after a human-error.(Photo : Reuters)

A paralyzed war veteran is suing United Airlines and Air Serv Corporation after being severely mistreated during a layover at Chicago O'Hare International Airport nearly two years ago. Former Marine Corps Sergeant Joseph Smith, who was paralyzed from serving in Afghanistan, claims he was injured by airline and airport employees and left to sit in his own urine for two hours.

On Nov. 19, 2010, war veteran Sgt. Smith was headed to Colorado Springs, Colo. from Charlotte, North Carolina for training with the Paralympic shooting team. He had a layover at Chicago O'Hare, where he needed help as he is is wheelchair bound.

When his United flight touched down in Chicago, an Air Serv employee was helping to push him in his wheelchair out of the plane door. Smith told the employee about a gap between the plane and the connecting ramp. The employee continued to push Smith, causing his wheel to get stuck in the gap and resulting in him falling out of his wheelchair and hitting his head on the floor.

"Because of my TBI (traumatic brain injury, also suffered when he was paralyzed), I have slow reflexes and couldn't catch myself," Smith told the High Point Enterprise. He was left with a severe headache and dizziness after the fall.

Smith was helped back into his wheelchair but wasn't offered medical assistance.  No one asked if he was okay.

Smith received further mistreatment when he was boarding his connecting flight. He asked the United flight attendants and Air Serv employees if he could have a special aisle chair that could transport him down the narrow aisle of the plane since his wheelchair was too wide. He never got the aisle chair.

Smith had to drag himself down the aisle of his behind, which caused his catheter bag to rip, leaving him covered in urine. 

"I had urine all over me, so I tried covering myself up," Smith recalled. "People were staring at me - it was humiliating."

Two other Marines who were on the flight didn't know what was going on with Smith until they saw him. They immediately rushed to his aid and helped him to his seat.

Smith had to sit through the flight covered in urine and with his head pounding from the earlier fall. The headache put him int he hospital for two days after he arrived in Colorado.

"They did a CAT scan and an MRI," Smith told HPE. "They were afraid my head was bleeding internally, because I'm on Coumadin (a blood thinner). The doctor said I had a severe concussion and that I might have nerve damage."

As if that wasn't bad enough, Smith was also mistreated by United and Air serv executives on his return flight. He refused to sign a document that they asked him to sign and claims that the executives treated him rudely after his refusal.

Smith is now suing United and Air Serv, claiming negligence against them. The suit seeks $300,000 in damages. The money would go towards his hospital bills and legal fees.

Share This Story

United Airlines says that Smith's story isn't what they heard.  "Our preliminary review does not corroborate Mr. Smith's version of events," spokeswoman Christen David said.


Smith hasn't received an apology from either company. At one point he was offered a settlement for $20,000, but that wouldn;t even cover his $30,000 hospital bill.

Smith claims that this lawsuit isn't about the money.

"I've been in a war, and if (United and Air Serv) want a war, we can go to war," the 42-year-old veteran said at his home Tuesday morning. "Money is not what this is about. It's about getting things changed for the disabled, because I don't want this to ever happen to anybody else."

He claims that any left over money will go towards several military-related charities. 

 

© 2015 Traverlers Today, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Join Our Conversation

Travel Tips

European City

Managing a Home Stay on your Travels Abroad

Whether a student or avid traveler, staying with a host family can be an amazing experience with first hand exposure to the culture, language, and food. But, of course there are fears and worries about staying with a family you have never meet, and the host family has them too about letting a stranger into their home. You want this time that you are staying with them to be enjoyable, full of intercultural learning and exchanges.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest travel news, reviews, and more..

Want more Travel?

Most Popular

Kim Jong Un

North Korea US Talks: DPRK Promises To Stop Nuclear Tests If Washington Promises To Stop Joint Military Exercises With South Korea

North Korea US talks may or may not happen following the former nation’s renewed bid to sway Washington’s decision after it rejected Pyongyang’s proposal to suspend nuclear tests under the condition that yearly American military drills with South Korea were put off. According to An Myong Hun, if the proposal is accepted, “many things will be possible this year on the Korean peninsula.”

Chris O'Leary shares picture on Twitter.

Passenger Delta: 65-Seater Regional Jet Flies To New York With Only Two Passengers

Passenger Delta flies to New York with only one other person. Today, flights are almost always packed that finding an empty middle seat has become somewhat of a rare luxury.

Memorial grows for 4 men shot in killed in San Francisco shooting Friday night

San Francisco Shooting: 4 Murdered In Hayes Valley, Suspects Still Hunted, Gang Related Shooting?

San Francisco Shooting – Four men were murdered in the upscale Hayes Valley neighborhood Friday night, according to authorities. The victims of the San Francisco shooting who were reportedly shot to death were found shot inside a black 2005 Honda parked near the corner of Page and Laguna streets.

Mass Unity Rallies Held Around The World Following Recent Terrorist Attacks

United States Issues Worldwide Travel Alert: Recent Terror Attacks In Paris And Hostage Taking In Sydney

United States issues worldwide travel alert following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Sydney. This alert comes after the announcement that French police have once again managed to track down and kill three of the hostage takers involved in the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Major Floods Swamp Metro Detroit Area

Interstate 94 Pileup: Lanes Reopen After Deadly 193-Vehicle Pileup

Interstate 94 Pileup – After the deadly pileup involving more than 100 cars in the Interstate 94 at Michigan, all lanes have now reopened. The lanes have reopened on Sunday, which was two days after the pileup that claimed one life while leaving more than a dozen injured.

Alcohol poisoning kills 6 Americans every day

US Government Alcohol Poisoning Kills 6 People Daily, Victims Mostly Middle-Aged Adults

US Government Alcohol Poisoning – According to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,200 people die from alcohol poisoning each year in the United States, meaning there it can kill an average of six people daily.

Truck Tribute Planned For West Gate Bridge Tragedy's Darcey Freeman

Girl Thrown From Westgate Bridge: Incident From 2009 Repeats, Five Year Old Daughter Thrown From Florida Bridge, What Led To Fathers' Actions?

Girl Thrown From Westgate Bridge – In 2009, a four year old girl was thrown from the Westgate Bridge by none other than her father. Six years after the tragic incident, it appears the same fate had occurred to a five year old girl who was thrown from the Florida Bridge. What led to both fathers decision to throw away such precious lives?

Nine earthquakes which ranged from magnitudes 1.6 to 3.6 rattled North Texas in less than 24 hours

North Texas Dallas Nine Earthquakes In Under 24 Hours, Fracking Caused Earthquake Cluster?

North Texas Dallas Nine Earthquakes – Nine earthquakes which ranged from magnitudes 1.6 to 3.6 rattled North Texas in less than 24 hours. The North Texas Dallas nine earthquakes late Tuesday and early Wednesday had experts turning to seismic data to help determine the reason for the cluster of quakes, with fracking suspected as one of them.

Hundreds Of Thousands Displaced By Fighting In Eastern Ukraine

Ukraine Bus Crash: 12 Servicemen Killed, 21 Injured, What Led To Crash?

Ukraine Bus Crash – Twelve servicemen were killed in a bus crash in eastern Ukraine while 20 were left injured. Reports claim that the bad weather in the area was to blame for the crash involving a military truck and a bus. The incident happened late Monday in the area were pro-Russian separatists are battling with the army.

Find Us on Facebook

travelers today

© Copyright 2015 Travelers Today All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Real Time Analytics