United Airlines has reached a $30 million settlement with the family of a paraplegic man

United Airlines has reached a $30 million settlement with the family of Nathaniel Foster Jr., a quadriplegic man who was left in a vegetative state after an incident while deplaning, according to court documents. The settlement was disclosed on Tuesday in San Francisco federal court and was reached after one day of trial. 


The incident occurred on Feb. 8, 2019, when Foster and his family were disembarking from a United Express flight to Monroe, Louisiana. Foster, who used a wheelchair, ventilator, and tracheal tube, was allegedly pushed "aggressively" and "forcefully" by a ramp supervisor, causing his body to jerk forward and then slouch back. 

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Foster's mother sought help after hearing him whisper "I can't breathe," but a gate agent "giggled" and told a surgeon who offered help "We got this." Foster then went into cardiac arrest. Now 26 years old, Foster has significant brain damage and is expected to live until age 31-1/2, down from 39 before the incident. 


The settlement requires court approval and is considered "fair and reasonable" by the plaintiffs. United said in a statement that their top priority is to provide a safe journey for all customers and that they are pleased that the matter has been settled. About $12 million of the settlement will cover legal fees, and $3 million will cover other costs.

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