‘They took my independence from me’: Disabled woman in wheelchair says United employee dropped her
A woman with a degenerative disease that requires use of a wheelchair was dropped by an United employee, according to a lawsuit filed against the embattled airline.
Erica Fulton was flying to Houston last September when the airline offered assistance to help her board the flight.
“He kept saying, ‘Don’t worry, I got you.’ And I put my trust in him,” Fulton said of the airline employee United provided. “But I saw the look of panic in his face when he knew he was going to drop me and it was terrifying.”
“I fell over this way,” she continued. And all of my weight landed on my shoulder, right on the corner of my shoulder, hit just under the window of the airplane.”
“The pain was excruciating,” she said. “I had tears rolling down my face. I’m huddled on the floor.”
“It turned into just the flight from hell,” Fulton later added.
Jonathan Day, a lawyer for Fulton, told the Daily News “this is the worst story I have ever heard.”
“Handicapped woman gets dropped, and then they drop her wheelchair on the same flight,” Day continued. “They didn’t drag her off the plane at least.”
Day was referring to the highly-publicized incident involving United and David Dao, a doctor who was forcibly removed from his seat by airport police. Dao was dragged through the airplane with such force that suffered a broken nose, lost two front teeth and required reconstructive surgery. The airline originally maintained Dao was “disruptive and belligerent.” CEO Oscar Munoz eventually took full responsibility for the incident.
“Based on the way I have been treated, I can not take seriously United’s own CEO Oscar Munoz’s recent promise that every customer deserves to be treated with the highest levels of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect,” Fulton said.
“After learning about the severity of my injury, United chose to bury its head in the sand by ignoring my phone calls, forcing me to hire legal counsel.”
In a statement, United said they “sincerely apologize to Fulton.”
“We hold all of our vendors to high standards and strive to provide great service to all of our customers,” United said. “We sincerely apologize to Ms. Fulton for her experience while traveling with us and have covered the cost of the repair to the wheelchair.”
But Fulton sees a larger issue at stake. “They took my independence away from me,” she said.