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May 3, 2013 / Corina Valderrama

Personal Injury Suit Against United Airlines for Failure to Provide Wheelchair to Disabled Passenger

A California appeals court recently overturned a trial court decision to dismiss a personal injury lawsuit against United Airlines (“United”) for failure to provide a wheelchair to a disabled person.  A person with a disability who is not properly accommodated during their time in an airport is quite likely to have those disabilities aggravated in some way or have some new injury result.

unitedairlineSan Francisco native and plaintiff Michelle Gilstrap suffers from oseoarthiritis which makes it difficult for her to walk or stand for extended periods of time.  In 2008 and 2009, Gilstrap claimed that United refused to provide her with a wheel chair and questioned the true nature of her disability.  According to the complaint, at one point, a United agent from whom she asked for assistance, unilaterally revoked her ticket and booked her for a later flight after telling her that is what she got for refusing to stand in line.

Gilstrap sued for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, breach of duty of a common carrier, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.  Gilstrap did not allege violations of the Air Carrier Access Act but claimed that the Act was relevant to establishing her negligence claim.

Of major issue to the appeals court was whether the remedies in the Air Carrier Access Act were exclusive and thus precluded other kinds of causes of action, such as those lying in tort.  The court found that the remedies were not exclusive and allowed the case to proceed.

Consequently, the effect is to give plaintiffs a real opportunity to redress violations of the federal regulation that aggravated and/or caused additional injuries.

If you feel that you or someone you know have been denied proper accommodation for a disability, please contact Khorrami, LLP for a private consultation.


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