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United Airlines to pay $30 million to man left brain damaged after 'violent' removal from plane

United Airlines to pay $30 million to man left brain damaged after 'violent' removal from plane

Nathaniel “NJ” Foster Jr remains in a vegetative state after the incident when the flight landed

United Airlines has agreed to pay $30 million to the family of a quadriplegic man who was left with brain damage after he was 'violently' removed from a flight.

Nathaniel Foster Jr, who goes by NJ, had been travelling to a funeral with his family on 8 February, 2019 when he was deplaned from the United Express flight by a member of staff working as a ramp supervisor.

Court papers claimed 26-year-old Foster, who uses a wheelchair, ventilator, and tracheal tube, usually had four to six staff members help him off planes, but after the flight landed in Monroe, Louisiana, there was allegedly only one attendant available.

Foster's family had travelled with United for a funeral.
Pascal Borener/Pexels

The staff member called for help, at which point a 'supervisor' arrived with an aisle chair.

The family requested additional assistance, to which the supervisor is said to have responded: "Fine. Do it yourself, then ... I’m out."

At that point, a baggage handler contracted to United secured Foster to the chair with a belt, before 'aggressively' and 'forcefully' pushing him, causing his body to jerk forward and then fall back to one side.

Foster's family described the removal as 'violent', and his mother, Pamela, sought medical help when she heard her son whisper 'I can't breathe'.

A surgeon offered to help, but court papers claim the gate agent laughed and responded 'we got this'.

Foster is said to have gone into cardiac arrest and suffered 'significant' brain damage after the incident.

He remains in a vegetative state, unable to speak or eat solid foods.

NJ remains in a vegetative state.
Stoll Law

The complaint said his life expectancy had decreased from 39-years-old prior to the incident, to 31.5.

In a press statement prior to the trial, Pamela said the family had received 'repeated assurances' from United that Foster would be properly cared for during their trip.

“What happened to our son, to our family, cannot be undone,” she said.

“We hope that through our loss, lessons present themselves so that no other family has to suffer.”

After a one day trial in San Francisco, United agreed to pay $30m (£23.7m) to Foster's family. The settlement is now waiting to be approved by a judge.

In a statement to Reuters, the airline commented: “Our top priority is to provide a safe journey for all our customers, especially those who require additional assistance or the use of a wheelchair.

“We are pleased to share that this matter has settled.”

When contacted by UNILAD, United Airlines did not have anything further to share.

Featured Image Credit: Stoll Law / Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Topics: Health, Money, US News, Travel