The curse of terrible airlines apparently hasn’t ended. United issued an apology Tuesday after a video surfaced of a Houston-based employee shoving a 71-year-old passenger to the floor during an argument over a ticket.
The actual incident in question took place about two years ago, the Washington Post reports, but a lawsuit was filed last week in Harris County, Texas, even as the airline is still facing backlash over its altercation with David Dao, who was dragged off a flight in Chicago in April.
Ronald Tigner, the passenger in this recently surfaced video—which was broadcast Tuesday evening by local news station KPRC—is suing United and two employees for more than $1 million, accusing them of negligence in the July 21, 2015, incident at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
In the video, the employee, a customer-service representative, can be seen shoving Tigner to the ground right in front of the United ticket counter.
Tigner hits his head on the ground and then lies motionless with his arms spread out, as not one United employee bothers to check on him.
“This is just one of the most inhumane things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Tigner’s attorney, William Hoke, said. “He violently shoves a 71-year-old man to the ground.”
Hoke told KPRC that his client was knocked unconscious.
“He lies there lifeless for minutes. Not one employee comes to check on him,” he added.
Instead, a passenger walking by reportedly stopped to help as United employees just watched.
“It was a good Samaritan, who was a nurse, that was catching a flight, ran over and said, ‘Please, God. Someone call 911,’” Hoke said.
When a United worker finally did call 911, the worker didn’t acknowledge that Tigner was pushed or had been rendered unconscious.
911: “What is the emergency?”
Worker: “There’s a 70-year-old male that had fallen down.”
911: “OK, is he awake?”
Worker: “I don’t know.”
911: “You know what the cause of the fall?”
The lawsuit names United Airlines, Alejandro Anastasia—the employee who pushed him—and another United employee.
Hoke says that the situation began after Tigner asked Anastasia for a new boarding pass because the one he had was “garbled,” according to KPRC. The lawsuit claims that the employee laughed and cursed at him.
“Anastasia was looking at Mr. Tigner and started smiling and said, ‘Can’t you see we’re busy?’ And there’s no one in the vicinity of these two employees,” Hoke said. “And [Tigner] tells Anastasia to wipe that smile off his face. That’s when Anastasia says, ‘I’ll kick your [expletives]’ and shoves Tigner to the ground.”
Anastasia was later charged with injury to an elderly individual and ordered to pay a fine, write a letter of apology and attend anger-management classes.
“We want people to come forward who’ve been treated just like Mr. Tigner and like Dr. Dao, any of the other people who’ve flown United and been treated this way, because this has to stop,” Hoke said.
United released a statement to KPRC:
We have seen the video from 2015 that shows completely unacceptable behavior by a United employee. This employee is no longer with our company. The conduct shown here does not reflect our values or our commitment to treat all of our customers with respect and dignity. We are taking a thorough look into what happened here and reaching out to our customer to profusely apologize for what occurred and to make this right.