Officer who dragged passenger off overbooked plane sues United Airlines

A former Chicago aviation security officer who lost his job after dragging a man off an overbooked United Airlines flight has filed a lawsuit against the airline and city.

James Long is one of multiple officers who forcibly removed 69-year-old Dr David Dao from a flight on 9 April last year after he refused to leave the flight. Long says he was not properly trained in the use of force and should not have been called.

Video footage taken by fellow passengers showing the scuffle – in which Dao suffered a broken nose and concussion, and lost two teeth – was shared online, sparking outrage worldwide.

“The ordeal led to demonstrations at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and turned into a public relations disaster for United Airlines,” says the BBC.

The airline later apologised and chanced its policy on overbook flights, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Long and three other aviation security officers were placed on administrative leave following the incident. Long was then fired from his position in August last year, following a disciplinary investigation.

He has filed a lawsuit against United, the City of Chicago, Chicago’s Department of Aviation (CDA) and its commissioner Ginger Evans.

“But for the CDA’s negligence and failure to train [Long] how to respond to an escalating situation with an Airline Passenger, [he] would not have acted in the manner he did, which resulted in his termination,” the lawsuit says.

It also claims that Evans defamed Long in social media posts and statements to news outlets, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The CDA and Evans “acted with malice and with the intention to harm, and recklessly disregarded [Long’s] rights and the consequences that may result to him by failing to investigation [sic] the truth of defendant Evans’s oral and written statements about Long,” the complaint says.

Long is seeking damages over his sacking, including back pay and payments to his retirement plan.

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