United Airlines and Dr. David Dao have reached a settlement agreement just weeks after he was dragged off of a flight, stirring up a national controversy over passenger rights.
The settlement agreement dictated the payout amount was not to be made public. United has been plagued by an intense public backlash after video emerged showing a bloodied Dao being dragged of a flight by Chicago Department of Aviation officers in order to make room for airline employees. United announced policy changes Thursday, including that it would no longer bounce passengers who were already seated and would now offer up to $10,000 for those who voluntarily de-boarded a flight.
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"Dr. Dao has become the unintended champion for the adoption of changes which will certainly help improve the lives of literally millions of travelers," said Thomas Demetrio, Dao's lawyer, in a statement. "I sincerely hope that all other airlines make similar changes and follow United's lead in helping to improve the passenger flying experience with an emphasis on empathy, patience, respect and dignity."
Demetrio also went out of his way to compliment United CEO Oscar Munoz in the settlement announcement. "Mr. Munoz said he was going to do the right thing, and he has," the lawyer said.
Munoz said to NBC News this week that "[United] breached public trust, and it's a serious breach." While the legal process might have been settled quickly, the 69-year-old doctor could still need surgery after suffering a concussion, a broken nose and two lost teeth, according to his lawyer.
The four officers who forcefully dragged Dao off the flight have all been placed on adminstration leave. Police have claimed he acted violently toward the officers, which Dao's lawyer denied.
United's stock plummeted in the wake of the scandal but largely recovered as the month passed. A poll this month found that after the incident United Airlines was more unpopular than Donald Trump, whose approval rating has been historically low through his first 100 days in the White House.
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