That Was Quick: United Reaches Undisclosed Settlement With Dr. Dao

Filed Under: United

Wow, United sure is trying to get the entire “dragging” incident behind them, that’s for sure. Earlier today we learned about the 10 policy changes that United is instituting following the incident they had with Dr. Dao, which they seem pretty serious about. It looks like we won’t see this incident drag out in court either, as it’s being reported that United and Dr. Dao have reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount. Per a statement from United:

We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do.

Meanwhile here’s what Dr. Dao’s lawyer had to say:

Dr. David Dao has reached an amicable settlement with United Airlines for the injuries he received in his April 9th ordeal, which was captured on video and viewed worldwide. The settlement was negotiated by Dr. Dao’s lawyers, Thomas A. Demetrio of Corboy & Demetrio and Stephen L. Golan of Golan Christie Taglia, and the legal representatives for United. A condition of the settlement includes a provision that the amount remain confidential. Dr. Dao and his attorneys agreed to that condition.

Demetrio praised Mr. Oscar Munoz:

“Mr. Munoz said he was going to do the right thing, and he has. In addition, United has taken full responsibility for what happened on Flight 3411, without attempting to blame others, including the City of Chicago. For this acceptance of corporate accountability, United is to be applauded.”

The settlement was reached on the same day United Airlines announced multiple positive changes to improve the customer experience. According to Demetrio, “Dr. Dao has become the unintended champion for the adoption of changes which will certainly help improve the lives of literally millions of travelers.” In addition, Demetrio stated, “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.”

I imagine United was very eager to get this behind them and not see this play out in court, given the further negative press it would give them. I suspect they paid dearly for that privilege, and that was probably smart. 😉

So, anyone want to guess how much they settled for? Seven or eight figures?

  1. An unlimited supply of mileage plus miles and a check with a whole lot of zero’s before the decimal point.

  2. To quote:

    Number Two: Don’t you think we should ask for *more* than a million dollars? A million dollars isn’t exactly a lot of money these days. Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year!
    Dr. Evil: Really? That’s a lot of money.

    I’d love to hear how much he got…and this is just the settlement from UA. Wait until the Airport Authority has to cough up $$…UA didn’t inflict the actual damage on him!

  3. Who the hell cares? It wasn’t even a United employee that did the dragging and caused the man harm… I wish people would focus on the fact that Dao was/is a known crook with a very shady past. Yet, everyone is fixated on United and the story hasn’t really deviated from them.

  4. And surely UA can’t expect that details won’t come out of this story. Regardless if the settlement had a gag order all it’ll take is the Airport ‘Police’ deciding to fight this and it’ll all hit the news! Then UA’s settlement will look waaaay overpriced, if the intent was to keep things quiet.

  5. So if I’m ever asked to get off a plane, should I act as immature as doctor dao did and resist authorities in order to get compensated?

  6. When I checked the stock price the other day, United’s stock was already above where it was before the incident.

  7. Did you hear about the guy who was kicked off a Delta plane because he needed to tinkle? The problem has not been solved.

  8. Well at least now Dr Dao can pay for his sex with actual money instead of giving out painkillers.

  9. UA putting customer value before shareholder value?? Jeff Smisek is feeling ill already at the thought. This whole episode is living proof of how “Jeffed up” the company is/was. Thier former best customers have already left a few years ago and poor Oscar came in and changed nothing until this event smacked him hard. The bottom line will come out over time, we’ll see if they really change. The company culture was not wrecked overnight and it cannot be rebuilt overnight either. Jeff should be ashamed of the company he ditched after Port Authority-gate wherein NJ gov employees went to jail for the deal he did and the “Chairman’s fight” UA operated. It’s about time Oscar finally cleaned house of Jeff’s team, the same ones who walked him into this mess. They just cost the brand (and shareholders) billions of $$$.

  10. I can’t guess how much the cash settlement was, but his lawyer comes across as a pretty savvy guy, so I’m certain that lifetime First Class travel was included!

  11. I agree it was smart to keep it out of court but the general problem with declining to disclose terms of the agreement is that (1) it only fuels further suspicion on the part of the public, and (2) it allows companies to keep wrong-doings from being aired in public by throwing money at the problem.

    Having said that United did formally apologize to Dr. Dao, so this settlement wasn’t simply one where the paying party does not formally admit wrongdoing.

    I wonder if he received lifetime free travel on United.

  12. I can guarantee you it is WAY MORE than a stupid travel voucher of $1000 that would have avoided all this bad press for United. Some companies prefer to learn the hard way.

  13. that was the plan, united did not need the bad publicity from letting this go to court, and the lawyer did not want to take a chance on a jury deciding the case.

  14. I still say the big payday and the big reveal of details will come from the suit vs the Police or Security company or the Airport Authority. Whoever was responsible for the 3 ‘cops’ that boarded the plane and roughed him up. And details will surely come out. I can’t imagine that UA expects things to remain quiet and hidden since the major offender isn’t part of this settlement!

  15. ugh.

    I’d hoped this would go to trial so we’d finally get the “Contract of Carriage” out into the open and litigated in the court of public opinion.

    It’s easily a big 8-figure deal.

  16. Free unlimited middle-seat BusinessFirst trips in the 8-across config that’ll be around for a few more years.

  17. @Marcus I fail to see how his past has anything to do with it. We all saw the video. Its really questionable whether or not United had the right to demand he be removed from the plane at this point. The way United mishandled this it was in their interest to settle and settle quick. I’m sure it was at least seven figures.

  18. @jfhscott yea i’m sure the amount he got as a fee is totally unjustified since he did very little work. United was foaming at the mouth to settle.

  19. I would guess $15-20M. If this went to court, there would’ve been nonstop negative press. Now people can forget about it.

  20. @Marcus: United broke its Contract of Carriage with Dr. Dao. Dao’s history has nothing to do with contract law. Furthermore, United illegally used the police to help enforce a contractual matter. I’m not sure which country you are from, but in the USA, even criminals are entitled to civilized treatment by airline staff and police.

    @UA MM 1K: Don’t worry, shareholders are still #1. I’m pretty sure UA just took this expensed this to their marketing department as public relations.

    It’s been at least 6 years since I’ve been on UA/CO, and I have no plans to fly them in the future. Until UA’s willing to truly clean house, including pissy flight crews, there are plenty of other airlines to choose. Even Spirit scores higher in customer satisfaction than UA, and that was BEFORE the scandals.

  21. Attorney Mark Garagos guessed it would be settled quickly, and based on his own extensive civil litigation experience thought it would be between 7-12mm

  22. @ Bill – Dao’s past is very much relevant, just not in the way all the self-righteous blustering about the doctor’s past would make it seem. Rather, it was Dao getting his dirty laundry dragged (no pun intended) into the worldwide spotlight courtesy of United that likely pushes the payout into the 8 figure range.

  23. I wouldn’t settle for any sum smaller than eight figures cash, UA stocks + unlimited (without blackout) lifetime full-fare-equivalent access to F/J on UA and Star Alliance partners for extended family and accompanying friends. And the ability to travel under any alias 🙂

  24. I suspect it’s in the low 8 figures, but I doubt there were any free flights/miles on top of that. In fact, I would think that as a condition of the payment United would insist that he can no longer fly the airline.

  25. If this had happened to me and I got 7-12mm, I would not be inclined to set foot on another UA flight again, even if part of the settlement was first class travel for life. Time to opt for flying private domestically and on non-USA metal overseas — He surely can afford it if the settlement was in this price range!

  26. Less than $1,000,000.00 IMHO. The value of the case for Dao will go down over time as in a year or two the result will be a footnote in the news. Depends on his medical expenses. How much would you award Dr. Dao if you were on the jury in pain and suffering (plus cost of medical treatment)..

  27. @Marcus finally some common sense!

    Welcome to the new America, where giving a shit about delaying all +100 passenger aboard not randomly selected will make you some kind of hero.
    Where lying about the patients you have to see, with your license suspended, is totally acceptable.

    The message is very clear, don’t comply with the law, give a shit about the rest of the people, disrespect the authority and you have your biggest chance in life to become star and a millionaire. We are about to see the level of rudeness of entitled passengers to a whole new level.

  28. I am not at all surprised with the settlement and the gag order . I think Dr Dao hired the right lawyer who displayed an effective strategy . I think United probably made the best move they could have made considering the abundance of bad publicity they had already brought upon themselves .
    It is obvious that other airlines as well have realized that they must treat people with a little more respect .
    I am wondering if United’s acceptance of full responsibility will shield other parties from litigation .

  29. I’m thinking the incredibly fast settlement is an attempt by UA to make themselves look good. Instead of increasing the guy’s pain with a long drawn-out process, they probably now look a lot better in the eyes of the general public (i.e., that portion of the general public who might be following the story).

    Who ever heard of a such a quick settlement anyway ?? And that again is something I perceive as a major good-news PR stroke by UA. After all, the incident is still very fresh in people’s minds …. and already UA settled, and probably/undoubtedly generously at that ?? I see that as a huge & very positive PR move, as it would tend to make the general public feel better that the wrong was righted so quickly. Knowing UA’s lawyers could drag it out for decades, well, they didn’t. People will feel good about that, that “justice” was done far more quickly than expected.

  30. I’m feeling really bad for other 3 persons who gave up their seat for a lot less than what Dr. Dao is getting.

  31. If there was actual and fair justice, Dao would have received:

    1) compensation for his medical expenses

    2) a public apology from United

    3) a few free flights.

    But of course this fraudster will unjustly be receiving several millions of dollars. And what makes it more annoying is having so very many people treating him as if he was a folk hero.

  32. United did not reach a settlement.

    They gave in to the social media mob and rewarded childlike and disrespectful behavior!

  33. But he is a folk hero. He asserted his rights under a tilted contract of Carriage, got beaten for his trouble and raised the nation’s awareness of the horrors of modern air travel.

    Having been ‘reaccommodated’ to a flight 4 or 5 days later by UAL on multiple occasions… yeah you are Damm right I’m glad this guy stood his ground.

  34. Im guessing $25-$50 million dollars plus free lifetime flights in first class. Smart move, United. Im also sure Dr. Dao wanted to see all of this just go away so the poor guy can quickly recover and move on with life. Dragging it in court would just keep the bad memories alive and increase the trauma.

  35. I would take the money & run the other way.

    United would never see the whites of my eyes, or any of my settlement money ever again!

  36. Ben’s hit job against UA continues. It amazes me how one sided the stories are. What about the issues on the other legacy carriers? I’ve read this blog for some time and I think I’m finally done with Ben’s narrow and self serving point of view.

  37. To those saying that Dr Dao is a crook, NO HE ISN’T. The news stories on those targeted another man named Dao who WAS. The doctor who was assaulted has a clean record.

  38. So…In thinking about this “Santa Claus” settlement…do any of my fellow “[email protected]” know if this money is actually coming from United’s coffers or is it being paid by the insurance company that writes their liability policy?

    As for UA throwing in free travel…I’d be afraid of a follow-on lawsuit from the good doctor for “aggravation of my PTSD”. Just sayin’….

  39. Don’t forget his lawyers will bite around 50% of whatever he got from United. The IRS will bite the rest. 🙂

  40. @Imperator What a folk hero he is. I love Dr Dao in every way, every bloodied-face, sex-trading, drug-dispensing part of him.

  41. If this settlement means the Department of Aviation cops go away scot free thats a shame. The cops really need to be raked over the coals for dragging a person knocked unconscious. Even if it had been a terrorist on board once he/she was injured and incapacited a stretcher would have been used to remove him/her. This was a booked, boarded,paying passenger being illegally deboarded in violation of Contract of Carriage and instead of enforcing the law the cops helped United in breaking the law and while breaking the law also endangered Dao’s life. Blows to the head or face and concussions can lead to death or permanent disability. We don’t know yet if Dao will ever be well enough to resume practice. In addition the hatchet job on personal life also needs to be taken into account. He probably did not want to drag this out as his skeletons would come into the open so United got lucky.

  42. Hey Marcus your “sources” must be high. No way in hell it is even close to that. Source? My litigation lawyer. Myself!

  43. @BBK: BUT United was in the wrong here, not Dao. They violated their own contract with Dao. If they had refused boarding that’s one thing, but once they’ve boarded, the airline is committed by their own contract to transport them unless there’s a major reason otherwise. Needing the space for your staff is not one of those conditions.

  44. This settlement is great news.

    Now we won’t have to see his daughter crying on cue for the television audience.

  45. @UA MM 1K every industry put $$ in front of people, I can tell you it happens every day in hospitals!

  46. just an FYI, cant reveal sources but its $140 Million is the final settlement. There were other terms but not going to list here……

  47. I can’t say the amount, but certainly I would not have settled for under a million bucks from those thugs.

  48. First off David Dao was not unconscious. He didn’t want to get up. He slammed his face into the armrest on purpose. The initial accident report said nothing about Dao’d injuries, but 2 days later the guy has 2 missing teeth, a broken nose and concussion. Dao played everyone plain and simple. Even at first the CEO said Dao was acting belligerent and violent. It was ONLY after the video hit social media and everyone just ganged up on them. If DAO did this in the old days like on a train or whatnot, he would of been killed on the spot and people would have went on with their business like nothing happened. So, what I learned from all this is forget college or any work whatsoever. Just provoke a big time company and have someone videotape it and even if your in the wrong, you just have to make it look like you were wronged and you will receive more money than you could make in 10 lifetimes. Welcome to America. No wonder why this generation is fu*kef!

  49. God Bless America and this modern day Rosa Parks. I finally feel safe flying again thanks to Dr. Dao and our wonderful TSA screening process. There was a time 20 years ago where you flew without protection it was crazy like the wild west, now we travel unencumbered free and safe. I’m moving to Russia…

  50. over 22 Million dollars at the least for his hardship and trauma cause by Delta

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