Paralyzed Vet Sues Over Mistreatment

A paralyzed veteran has filed a $300,000 lawsuit against United Airlines and the Air Serv Corp. over alleged mistreatment he received at O’Hare Airport in 2010. In a lawsuit filed Nov. 13, Joseph Smith, 42, of North Carolina, alleges an Air Serv employee ignored his warning that the front wheel of his wheelchair was stuck, causing him to fall and suffer a concussion.

The suit further alleges that when Smith reached his gate, employees refused to help him board. Smith dragged his body down the aisle, causing his catheter bag to break. According to Smith, no one offered to help him. He was en route to Colorado Springs for a Paralympic event.

Smith’s lawyer, Alex Loftus, says he wants the suit to send a clear message. “Disabled passengers have rights that need to be protected, and you can’t just push around an individual disabled passenger without knowing you’ll eventually have to pay for it,“ Lotus says.

United spokeswoman Christen David released a statement, saying, “Our preliminary review does not corroborate Mr. Smith’s version of events.”

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