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American Airlines is facing a lawsuit over its allegedly deplorable treatment of a man with no feet. Michael Mennella, who lost both feet due to an auto accident over five years ago, was removed from an American Airlines flight, for allegedly being intoxicated. Mennella alleges he was removed as a result of discrimination and negligence.
The flight was diverted, and made an emergency landing in Texas, where Mennella was removed from the plane by officers. Although American Airlines claimed Mennella was intoxicated, law enforcement found no evidence of intoxication whatsoever. He was told that he would be arrested on felony charges, but was released once officers starting talking with him. He was not booked, nor charged. Fortunately, Mennella was able to catch a flight to his final destination on another airline. However, being removed from the flight was the final straw to an already aggravating experience.
Mennella's flying experience was anything but pleasant. On August 28, 2016, when he arrived to check in for his flight, he discovered that his wheelchair reservation had been lost. For someone with no feet, that's a real problem. What's worse is that the airline was unable to secure any other wheelchair for Mennella. This meant that he would be forced to hobble on the ends of his amputated legs to board the plane, which he described as a painful experience.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act, which is almost like the Americans with Disabilities Act (but much much weaker), airlines are required to provide boarding assistance to individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, unlike other public accommodations and businesses, airlines are not required to comply with the ADA, but rather the ACAA (which does not allow aggrieved individuals to file lawsuits).
Mennella was denied that assistance. To make matters worse, once boarded, Mannella requested water so that he could take medication. After his requests were ignored by a nearby flight attendant, he walked to the back of the plane to request water from another flight attendant. Unfortunately, he was again ignored.
Suing an airline after an injury can be rather complicated due to the fact that the entire industry is so highly regulated. Frequently, the federal regulations will make even simple negligence claims into needlessly complex cases. If you believe you have a case or claim against an airline, airport, or an employee of either, contact an experience aviation attorney as even small injuries can sometimes result in large awards when airlines violate consumers' rights.
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