United Airlines is facing a lawsuit after a surveillance video showed an employee at Houston’s George Bush International Airport in July 2015 shoving a 71-year-old grandfather to the floor over a ticket dispute and then leaving the unconscious man “there like a piece of garbage,” according to his attorney.
Footage of the incident was broadcast late Tuesday by KPRC. In the video, Houston-based attorney Ronald Tigner is seen being pushed to the floor by a male customer service rep. “This is just one of the most inhumane things I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Tigner’s attorney, William Hoke.
In the fall, Tigner hit his head and can be seen lying unconscious on the floor. United employees apparently did nothing to help him. “He laid there lifeless for several minutes,” Hoke said, noting, “Not one United employees [came] to check on him … They literally left him there like a piece of garbage.”
Another passenger then bent down to help Tigner roughly 50 seconds after he fell as nearby United employees “just watch,” KPRC reported, noting that a United employee eventually called 911, but didn’t tell the dispatcher that the man was pushed or that he was unconscious.
“It’s astounding,” Hoke said. “It’s outrageous.”
The United employee who pushed Tigner has been identified as Alejandro Anastasia. Tigner is now suing him, United Airlines and another employee for more than $1 million, alleging negligence. According to Hoke, the dispute began when Tigner asked for a new boarding pass because his was unreadable. Anastasia reportedly laughed and cursed at Tigner in response.
“Anastasia was looking at Mr. Tigner and started smiling and said, ‘Can’t you see we’re busy?’ and there’s no one in the vicinity of these two employees,” Hoke said. “And he tells Anastasia to wipe that smile off his face. That’s when Anastasia says, ‘I’ll kick your (expletive)’ and shoves Tigner to the ground.”
Injury to an elderly individual is a felony, and Anastasia was charged with the crime but was only ordered to pay a fine. He also had to write a letter of apology to Tigner and attend anger management sessions.
United also made a formal apology for the incident on Tuesday, saying in a statement, “The conduct shown here does not reflect our values or our commitment to treat all of our customers with respect and dignity. We are taking a thorough look into what happened here and reaching out to our customer to profusely apologize for what occurred and to make this right.”
This incident is just one of a string of lawsuits facing United Airlines. Most recently, a classical musician sued the airline last week claiming that she missed a trip after being barred from a flight with her antique violin.
And in April, David Dao, 69, was dragged off of an overbooked flight and injured by airport security officers in an incident that was caught on video. United later apologized and awarded Dao an undisclosed settlement.
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