David Dao: Doctor dragged off plane files court papers demanding United Airlines preserve evidence

Expert commentator weighs on why video could cost United Airlines $900M

Dr. David Dao, the man seen in a viral video being dragged off a United Airlines plane after refusing to give up a seat he paid for, is suing for damages. On Wednesday, he filed an emergency “bill of discovery” which demanded that all evidence during the incident be preserved, including surveillance video, voice recordings, cockpit recordings, and more.

Veteran filmmaker, renowned speaker, and author of Leadership in Focus, Vern Oakley, spoke with Crime Online exclusively about the ordeal, and he isn’t surprised at all by how everything is panning out, including how the airline’s stock dropped by $1.4 billion.

“If there had been no video of the subject it is unlikely United’s stock would have dropped at all.  Video can be incredibly visceral and is very shareable.” “It circled the Internet at lightning speed,” Oakley said. “When people are sharing something online they are not only sharing the video, but they’re also sharing the emotion they were feeling when they watched the video. In sharing it, they want you to feel that emotion, too. In this case, the emotion is outrage or discomfort or anger.”

Dao, 69, was one of four people on a United Airlines flight who was picked at random on Sunday to depart the overbooked plane at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Dao refused to give up his paid seat, especially after he was allowed to board the plane and get settled in. He told the airline staff and airport police officers that he had patients waiting on him, but that apparently made no difference. He was dragged off the plane and ended up with a bloodied face.

Later, United Airline’s CEO, Oscar Muñoz, made a video statement about the incident, stating that he was shocked and saddened by what transpired. He also apologized for originally calling Dao “belligerent” and “disruptive.” Why did Muñoz choose to issue a statement via video? According to Oakley, video is one of the best ways for “damage control.”

“Video is great for damage control because when done well it can make an immediate emotional connection with the viewer. In a written statement remorse can read as hollow. Remorse translates better on video because it’s not just about the words: it’s about intonation, body language, and facial expression, it’s about real communication and connection.”

However, Muñoz’s video wasn’t enough to stop Dao from filing suit against the airline. According to Dao’s lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, his client suffered a concussion, lost two teeth, and endured a broken nose after Chicago Aviation police officers allegedly roughed him up while dragging him off of the plane. Demetrio said the lawsuit was based on the extreme force used to remove Dao from the plane.

“Here’s the law, real simple: If you’re going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence. That’s the law.”

With 95% of Americans owning smartphones, situations such as Dao’s will continue to surface. Oakley stated that this will cause huge impacts on companies, and business leaders should learn how to be empathetic on video in order to “handle the tsunami.”

“As United was painfully reminded, cameras are everywhere. Video is overwhelmingly the way people want to receive information today and it’s how they relate to leaders. By 2020, 84% of Internet traffic will be video. In order to be prepared for the video tsunami, leaders have to look at being authentic and empathetic on camera as another skill to learn, a skill that takes practice and patience to perfect.”

[Feature Photo: YouTube Screenshot]