Marine Corps veteran, Sergeant Joseph Smith of Thomasville, North Carolina, has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines and Air Serv Corp after he was allegedly injured at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Smith was injured in action during his fourth deployment to Afghanistan in 2004, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is paralyzed from the waist down and relies on a wheelchair for mobility.
The $300,000 claim he filed against the two companies is for injuries sustained during two separate incidents at the airport. According to Smith, he was injured on November 19, 2010 while traveling to Charlotte, NC. As he was changing planes, he claims that a worker from Air Serv Corporation was pushing him when his wheelchair tipped over, causing him to fall to the floor, striking his head. The injury resulted in a concussion for which he was later hospitalized, according to his claims.
The second incident occurred when he boarded his connecting United Airlines flight to Colorado Springs. He says he had requested the narrow wheelchair that would fit down the plane’s aisle, but he was given a wide wheelchair. Smith states he had to drag himself on his stomach to his seat, rupturing his catheter bag and leaving him soaked in his urine for the duration of the flight.
United Airlines issued a brief statement. Spokesman Christen David stated, “Our preliminary review does not corroborate Mr. Smith’s version of events.”
It is possible that the companies may settle in negotiations. Otherwise, the case will go to litigation.
Others have taken it into their own hands to shame United Airlines into making changes.
Jeremy Cooperstock, an engineering professor at McGill University in Québec, has taken it upon himself to create a mock website called Untied.com that imitates the look of an airline website, including a widget that appears to check flight times, but actually is a venue for airing one’s complaints about United. “Under [the] Canadian Copyright Act, parody or satire constitutes fair dealing and does not infringe copyright,” Cooperstock says on Untied.com. United has filed suit against Cooperstock, but the site remains active and Cooperstock remains very vocal.
Do you think these incidents occurred as Sgt. Smith reported them? Have you ever felt your rights were infringed upon enough to take on an airline? Let us know in your comments below.