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. 

 

© 2014 Traverlers Today, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Join Our Conversation

ADVERTISEMENT

Travel Tips

Prince Edward Island, Canada

Fall Cruises: Better Than Land Tours? It Gives Guests ‘A European Experience Without Leaving North America’

Fall cruises for foliage in the northeast are now becoming more and more popular as each year goes by. The foliage that is part of the tour is unlike any other place in the country. In fact, more guests are even paying good money to cruise the rivers, as well as the oceans, in order to peep leaves instead of having to brave today’s highly crowded roads and hotels on land.

Subscribe to our newsletter

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

Want more Travel?

Most Popular

Daniela Poggiali

Nurse Kills 38 Patients Because She Got Annoyed; Co-Workers Say Italian Nurse Daniela Poggiali Is 'Cynical And Vindictive'

Nurse Kills 38 Patients - Italian nurse Daniela Poggiali is one healthcare professional you should be wary of if ever you get confined in a hospital in Italy. For one thing, she is notorious for killing up to 38 patients after she got completely annoyed of them or of their families.

Cattle Return From Alpine Summer Grazing

World's Tallest Cattle Found In Illinois, How Tall Is Blosom The Cow?

World’s tallest cattle is found in Illinois. Owned by Patty Hanson, Blosom the cow has been named Guinness World Records’ tallest cow. How big and tall exactly is Blosom?

Grizzly Bear

Man, 56, Attacked By Bear Shot Accidentally By Hunting Partner Who Tried To Save Him From The Beast

A man attacked by bear was shot by his friend while the latter was attempting to spare him from the brutal attack of the beast.

Debris field spotted on radar at time of the Louisiana loud boom

Louisiana Loud Boom: Mysterious ‘Sonic Boom’ In The Sky Rattles Residents, ‘Debris Field’ Spotted, What Is The ArkLaTex ‘Boom’?

The Louisiana loud boom which was heard and rattled many north eastern Louisiana residents is as of this moment still left unexplained. However, now the National Weather Service has added that whatever the cause of the Louisiana loud boom, it has left a debris field.

Illness Observation

Ebola Airborne CDC: Widespread Outbreak Possible, More Contagious Virus Than Thought

The Executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Jane Orient, claimed the world is dealing a different kind of Ebola virus, one which is more potent and can be transmitted in air via droplets.

Brazil is currently treating and monitoring its first suspected case of Ebola. A 47 year-old man from Guinea reportedly manifest fever withing the 21 day-incubation period of the virus.

Brazil Confirms First Suspected Ebola Case

Brazil treats its first ever suspected case of Ebola while waiting for the results of a blood test which is due to be released on Saturday.

Ebola Press Conference Boston Logan Airport

Ebola In Boston: Two Ebola Mass. Scares Raises Fears Despite Braintree Patient Declared Not At Risk, What Is The Different Types Of Ebola Risks?

Fears over Ebola in Boston have heightened after two Massachusetts scares flared up over the Columbus Day weekend. Raised concerns over Ebola in Boston have since prompted holiday press conferences and reverse 911 calls to reassure the public.

American Airlines jet landing at DCA

American Airlines Flight Depressurized Due To Cracks In Cabin Walls; Plane Had Emergency Landing

American Airlines had to have an emergency landing after its cabin walls started to break apart as its passengers, absolutely terrified, had no choice but to look on and shout for help. One of the passengers, James Wilson, said that he felt something was wrong when the fuselage started to shake violently and heard some popping noises outside the plane.

Tropical Storm Ana 2014

Tropical Storm Ana 2014: Hurricane Watch May Be Required In Hawaiian Islands Because Of Strong Intensity Tropical Storm

Tropical Storm Ana 2014 - The new tropical storm named Ana is currently getting stronger and stronger with maximum sustained winds at 70 mph or 110 km/h and it is expected to hit the main Hawaiian islands on Wednesday, KHON2 first reported.

Mount Sinabung spews pyroclastic smoke, seen from Tiga Pancur village on February 12, 2014 in Karo District, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Mount Sinabung Eruption 2014: Hauntingly Beautiful Lava And Ash Prompts Evacuations, Eruption Reaches Fourth Successive Day

A Mount Sinabung eruption 2014 occurred Friday, with the volcano spewing tons of molten lava and ash, captured in hauntingly beautiful photos. The initial Mount Sinabung eruption 2014 for the month, the latest in a recent set of eruptions of the Indonesian volcano took place Wednesday afternoon.

Find Us on Facebook

travelers today

© Copyright 2014 Travelers Today All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Real Time Analytics