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United Airlines to Pay $30 Million Settlement to Quadriplegic Man Left in Vegetative State After Flight The incident is said to have cut the victim's life expectancy by eight years.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • A quadriplegic man was left in a coma after deplaning a United Airlines flight in 2019.
  • The lawsuit claimed negligence and "intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
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United Airlines has agreed to pay a $30 million settlement this week to a quadriplegic man who was left in a vegetative state after deplaning a flight to Monroe, Louisiana, Reuters reported.

On February 8, 2019, Nathaniel Foster Jr. and his family traveled from San Francisco to Monroe to attend a funeral. The family claimed in the suit that, due to Foster's condition wherein he relies on a wheelchair, ventilator, and tracheal tube, they arranged for accessibility needs when booking the United flight. When deplaning, the family alleges Foster's chair was pushed in an "aggressive" and "forceful" manner by the ramp supervisor, which dislodged his tracheal tube and left him without adequate oxygen supply.

Foster subsequently suffered cardiac arrest, causing "significant" brain damage. The lack of oxygen caused him to fall into a coma from which he hasn't recovered, the complaint states, rendering him unable to communicate verbally or consume solid food.

The lawsuit, filed in 2019, included claims of negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Foster's family members, including his mother, father, and sister, were also present during the incident and had purchased tickets from United Airlines.

Related: American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Due to the incident, Foster, 26, is now only expected to live until 31, the court documents state, tacking eight years from his previous life expectancy of 39.

The family has been caring for Foster in their home in California and has said the settlement is "fair and reasonable," per Reuters.

In a statement to the outlet, United said: "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."

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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