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

Lake Tahoe, NV, Sand Harbor (2) 9-2010

5 Ways to Have a More Active Vacation

For those of us who like to live an active lifestyle here are some tips for staying active while you're on vacation where it can be very difficult.

Subscribe to our newsletter

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

Want more Travel?

Most Popular

Car

Canada Hit-And-Run Attack Perpetrator 'Radicalized?' Authorities Cite Similar Case Last Year As Basis

The Canada hit-and-run attack suspect, who was killed by the authorities after a long chase, is now believed to have been "radicalized" because of the on-going terrorism in the country.

Eric Matthew Frein

Pennsylvania Man Hunt: Schools Close As Man Hunt Drags On, Eric Frein Spotted In Close Proximity To Schools, Children Unsafe With Man Hunt Ongoing?

Pennsylvania man hunt of Eric Frein has dragged on to its’ second month. Frein is wanted for the murder of a state trooper, Cpl. Bryon Dickson, last Sept. 12. Named as “extremely dangerous” by Pennsylvania authorities, Frein has already been added to FBI’s most wanted fugitives.

ISIS Militants In Syria

Denver Girls ISIS: FBI Reviewing Evidence Against Three Girls Believed To Be Heading To Syria To Join Islamic State Militants: Report

Denver Girls ISIS - At least three girls from Denver have been denied their right to travel after authorities found out that they were heading to Syria via Turkey. The FBI is looking into evidence that could prove the girls' intention of joining the Islamic State militants.

Caribbean Princess, Dublin Port

Ebola-Risk Hospital Worker Boards Caribbean Cruise Ship; U.S. Officials To Limit Their Public Appearances

An Ebola-risk health care worker boarding a cruise ship is being isolated despite not showing any signs and symptoms of the deadly disease while U.S. officials asked the health workers exposed to the Ebola infected patients to limit public appearances.

Defective Takata airbags prompted the recall of about 247,000 Toyota model vehicles.

Takata Airbag Recall 2014: Toyota Withdraw Models For Defective Inflators

Takata airbag defect prompts the recall of several Toyota Motor Corp models in the United States on Monday.

Vials

Cure For Ebola Found: Canada To Ship 800 Vials of Experimental Vaccine, China Claims To Have Found Cure

Cure for Ebola found – Canada is reported to send out 800 vials of an experimental drug set out to cure the Ebola outbreak. The cure for Ebola found is an experimental drug named VSV-EBOV. All 800 vials had been tested on primates and showed positive results.

California Drought Map

California Drought Map Reveals 58% Of State Suffers Deficiency Of Water Supply Amid Imminent Winter Season

California's drought map still shows an alarming phenomenon at the Golden State wherein 58% of the area is suffering from deficiency of water supply, be it atmospheric, surface or ground water.

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.

Find Us on Facebook

travelers today

© Copyright 2014 Travelers Today All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Real Time Analytics