United doctor suffered concussion while being dragged from flight, lawyer says

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The Kentucky doctor who was dragged off a United Airlines flight on Sunday received a significant concussion and broken nose, and also lost two front teeth, his lawyer revealed Thursday.

Thomas Demetrio, a Chicago aviation attorney, said during a news conference that 69-year-old Dr. David Dao was released from a hospital late Wednesday night and will undergo reconstructive surgery in the coming days.


Dao was pulled from the plane Sunday after he refused to give up his seat on the full flight from Chicago to Louisville.

Demetrio said he “probably” will file a lawsuit on Dao’s behalf, but is doing due diligence to make sure “every word, every proposition in the lawsuit needs to be there.”

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Crystal Dao Pepper, one of the doctor’s children, said the family was “horrified, shocked and sickened” to find out and then watch what happened on the Sunday flight.

“Seeing it on video made those emotions exacerbated,” she said on Thursday. “My dad is a wonderful father. He is a loving grandfather.”

She added: “We are deeply affected by (this incident). Our lives have been interrupted. Our normalcy is not what it was before Sunday morning.”

Pepper said her father and mother were traveling from California to Louisville, and caught a connecting flight at O'Hare.

Demetrio said airlines have "bullied" passengers "for a long time” and have treated passengers as “less than maybe we deserve.”

“If you are going to eject a passenger, it can’t be done with unreasonable force and violence. That is the law,” he said. “We want fairness. We want respect and we want dignity. That’s it.”

He said the treatment of Dao was particularly violent, but "it took something like this to get a conversation going."

"They have treated us less than maybe we deserve," Demetrio said. "Are we going to continue to be treated like cattle?"


Demetrio said Dao didn't remember what exactly occurred when he was removed from the flight, including getting back on the plane, because of the concussion he suffered.

He said he didn’t believe race played any role in the incident, adding that Dao told him that getting dragged down the aisle was “more horrifying” that leaving Vietnam in 1975 after the fall of Saigon.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has said he was "ashamed" when he saw the video and that the airline is reviewing its policies. Munoz said law enforcement won't be involved in removing passengers in the future.

The airlines has also said it would compensate customers who were on the flight when the man was removed.

Demetrio said Dao's family accepted the airline's apology but called it insincere and "staged." He said it was done because the airline was taking a public relations "beating."

"We accept the apology but they are not off the hook," he said.