A video showing United Airlines passenger David Dao was forcibly dragged off the airplane has instantly gone viral. In the wake of Dao’s lawyer public speech indicating possible legal actions against the airline, stories about Dao and his background have flooded the social media. “American Airlines is in big trouble, as Dao, a doctor with a powerful and privileged role in the society, can tap into the vast legal resources to take actions against the airline .
Maybe social status and personal connections are all that needed to launch a legal battle against a rival in China. In a society where whom you know matters more than what you know, a doctor can build extensive social networks through his practices that allow him to achieve his personal goals in almost all circumstances of his life. If you have ever hurt or offended someone, you’d better hope and pray that the victim is not an authoritative figure with vast legal arsenals at his disposal, but a weak and marginalized small guy, whose only choice to the insult is to swallow the humiliation silently.
但是在美国，赢得法律战役的重要契机是受害者的被辱经历，而非其广袤的人际关系。的确，陶大卫已经聘请芝加哥鼎鼎有名的人身损害律师Thomas Demetrio为自己讨公道。经验丰富的Demetrio以出色的诉讼技能著称，尤其擅长航空诉讼。据Demetrio的个人简介称，他在2014年被《国家法律期刊》评为诉讼律师界50名“开拓者和先驱者” 之一，并一直被公认为伊利诺斯州最顶尖的辩护律师之一。
But in the US, a victim’s traumatic experience, instead of his strong social connection, is a powerful legal remedy. Indeed, Dao has hired Thomas Demetrio, a prominent personal injury lawyer in Chicago. Demetrio is renowned for his litigation skills, with plenty of experience when it comes to air travel. According to his bio, Demetrio was named one of the National Law Journal’s 50 “Trailblazers and Pioneers” in litigation in 2014, and has often been recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in the state of Illinois.
But to Demetrio, Dao is an influential victim, rather than a prestigous doctor whose plight has stirred fierce outrage around the globe and deeply resonated with a flying public. He has decided to legally represent him because he has seen the merit of personal injury claim and the enormous potential settlement value in a lawsuit.
In personal injury claims, the value of the case largely depends on nature and the cause of the injury. In this case, Dao has been severely injured in the incident. He has suffered a concussion, a broken nose, and lost two front teeth and needs reconstructive surgery. Demetrio clearly indicates that United Airlines was responsible for the unreasonable force and violence used in yanking Dao out of the plane.
Apparently, lawyers love high profile cases. Dao’s incident has gone viral worldwide. An estimated 270 million people have seen it on social media just in China alone. And Demetrio’s press conference following the incident has attracted billions of audiences across the globe, putting him under international spotlight and bringing him soaring popularity and fame. With Dao becoming a poster child for airline’s abusive practices, Demetrio can collect more victims from public with similar experiences, so that a class actions lawsuit, with more powerful influence and settlement values, would loom large.
While Dao is a doctor, he has a troubled past and his social status had failed to make the authority turn a blind eye to his misconducts. He was convicted for trading drugs for gay sex in 2005, after facing 98 felony drug charges, which forced him to surrender his license to practice medicine in Kentucky. He was abled to practice medicine again in 2015 but with restrictions. Last year, the medical board imposed even more restrictions – allowing him to practice internal medicine in an outpatient facility only one day a week.
Apparently, Dao’s “power and privilege” has played no role in his legal claim, but the insult and physical harm he endured on that flight -- as an innocent and powerless passenger -- have given him the legal weapon to sue and led to the airline’s worst nightmare in history.
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