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United passenger dragged off plane hires high-profile personal injury lawyer

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Updated: A United Airlines passenger who was dragged from a plane has retained a well-known Chicago personal injury lawyer.

The passenger, David Dao, has hired lawyer Thomas Demetrio, report the Chicago Tribune and DNAInfo. Demetrio, a lawyer with Corboy & Demetrio, said in a statement that Dao was in a hospital on Tuesday where he was being treated for his injuries.

Dao is also represented by lawyers from Golan Christie Taglia.

Dao’s lawyers asked a court in Cook County, Illinois, on Wednesday to order preservation of evidence related to the incident, Law360 (sub. req.) reports. The emergency petition seeks preservation of any surveillance video, cockpit audio, passenger and crew lists, incident reports, and officer personnel files.

United had asked Dao and three other passengers to leave the plane in Chicago to make room for crew members who needed to get to Louisville to work on a flight, according to passengers. Dao said he was a doctor who needed to see patients the next day and couldn’t leave. Passengers posted cellphone video of the incident.

Dao did not have a current medical license, but was trying to regain it, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. He was allowed to practice medicine in 2015, however, provided he met certain conditions.

The newspaper cited documents indicating Dao had given up his license in 2005 after being convicted in connection with allegations of fraudulent prescriptions.

Demetrio didn’t immediately respond to an ABA Journal request for comment about Dao’s medical license.

United has announced it will provide refunds to all passengers on the flight, USA Today reports.

United CEO Oscar Munoz released a statement Tuesday apologizing to Dao and passengers on board the plane. “The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened.”

Munoz also said United will review its policies for handling of “oversold situations” and crew movement, as well as the incentives offered to passengers to give up their seats.

In an interview on Good Morning America on Wednesday, Munoz said he felt shame when first saw the video, report the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. “This will never happen again on a United Airlines flight,” he said.

Munoz said Dao was a paying customer and was not at fault. “No one should be treated that way,” he said.

United will no longer use law enforcement to eject seated passengers, he said

The tone of Munoz’s new statement was different from a previous one in which he called the incident upsetting and apologized “for having to re-accommodate these customers.” In an internal memo, he said employees had followed established procedures.

When asked what Dao deserved from United, Munoz said “an apology,” the Chicago Tribune reported. Munoz told the Tribune that he has tried to reach Dao but has so far been unsuccessful.

The security officer who dragged Dao from the plane has been placed on leave by the Chicago Department of Aviation. On Wednesday afternoon, two additional officers were placed on administrative leave, the Tribune reported.

Related article: “Can United order passenger ouster? Check out its contract of carriage and federal compensation caps”

Updated at 3:15 p.m. with information about Dao’s medical license and about court action on Wednesday. Story updated at 4:10 p.m. to report that the passengers will get refunds. Story updated at 5:30 p.m. to report that two additional officers had been placed on leave and report additional remarks from Munoz. Story updated on April 13 to remove references to the flight being overbooked..

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