United passenger claims he fractured spine after airline took away wheelchair

A 66-year-old Florida man has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines, claiming the company is responsible for injuries he sustained en route to his father’s funeral in Feb. 2017.

Greg Woienski, who was 65 at the time of the incident, says he suffered a “fractured spine” as well as “several other major injuries” after United Airlines allegedly made him board his flight from Orlando to Newark without the use of a wheelchair, according to court documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

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Woienski had reportedly been wheeled down the jetway immediately before the accident, but staff removed the wheelchair just prior to actually boarding the aircraft.

“Almost immediately after plaintiff entered the airplane, he fell in a violent fashion, suffering a fractured spine, along with several other major injuries,” the suit claims.

Woienski, who had previously stated on a GoFundMe page that he was already on permanent disability, has not fully recovered from his injuries sustained on the United aircraft, the Sentinel reports.

United, meanwhile, has stated that the airline has "not yet been served with this suit and due to the pending litigation involved in this matter, we’re unable to provide further comment.”

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United’s website states that customers with disabilities are allowed the use of available wheelchairs “for transportation to the departure gate,” but notes that the airline also has onboard wheelchairs, for passengers requiring assistance moving about the cabin, on “every aircraft with more than 60 seats.”

Woienski’s lawsuit further claims that his traveler information specified that he needed a wheelchair for mobility.

His attorney, Andre G. Raikhelson, has said he repeatedly tried to contact United prior to filing the lawsuit, but was “ignored.”

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According to Woienski’s GoFundMe page, his father, a 98-year-old World War II veteran, had died in hospice care on Feb. 21, 2017. He had set up the GoFundMe in order to raise funds for his and his wife’s flights to the funeral.