The Transporation Department has passed on filing charges against United Airlines for dragging passenger David Dao off a Chicago plane in April.
Federal officials ruled there was no evidence the airline violated passengers’ civil rights during the situation, nor was there enough proof that United broke its rules on bumping passengers from one flight to another. The department also concluded that United did not discriminate against Dao, who is Asian-American, during the removal.
Transportation Department Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings Blane Workie, who penned the letter, argued that the department only takes action for repeat offenders or significant violations of consumer-protection laws. Instead, Workie claimed United did not give Dao and his wife information containing their rights as passengers as the couple left for the hospital, and that United did not properly calculate compensation for a bumped passenger. Workie also stated that the Chicago airport police officers were not part of the federal government’s investigation, leaving the U.S. to bring no charges against their treatment toward passengers.
In fact, the Transportation Department announced those conclusions to United on May 12. The U.S. government’s decision remained confidential until Flyers Rights, an airline flyers’ advocacy organization, filed a Freedom of Information Act request. Advocates find the government’s ruling particularly upsetting, in part because the incident left Dao with a broken nose, two lost teeth, and a concussion from airport police.
“For the Department of Transportation to conclude that United Airlines’ conduct did not warrant an enforcement action is a dereliction of duty,” Flyer Rights president Paul Hudson told the Chicago Tribune. He argued Dao’s removal was “egregious in every sense of the word.”