Woman claims she lost use of arm after airport employee dropped her

HOUSTON – A Florida woman, who was at Houston's Bush Airport on a layover, said she was badly injured when an employee of a United Airlines service provider dropped her.

Erica Fulton is confined to a wheelchair because of a lifelong degenerative spinal condition, she was attempting to transfer from a wheelchair to her seat on an airplane, with help from two employees, when she says the man let go.

"He kept saying, 'Don't worry, I got you.' And I put my trust in him," Fulton, 54, told KPRC 2. "But I saw the look of panic in his face when he knew he was going to drop me and it was terrifying."

Fulton said she went down, hard and landed on her right shoulder.

"All of my weight landed on my shoulder," she said via Skype from her home in Florida. "I felt this horrible pain."

Fulton calls the flight from Tampa to Texas the "flight from hell," not only was she injured but she said the airline also damaged her $23,000 customized wheelchair. Fulton said workers dropped it and crushed it.

"I hardly recognized it," she said.

United has paid for the repairs and in an email said, "...we hold all of our vendors to high standards and strive to provide great service to all of our customers. We sincerely apologize to Ms. Fulton for her experience while traveling with us and have covered the cost of the repair to the wheelchair."

But Fulton said she has gotten no response when it comes to her shoulder. She had surgery on it and doctors installed a metal plate but Fulton says she has lost use of her arm completely.

"When you lose use of your legs you need your arms," she said. "They never returned any of my calls and left me no recourse but to hire an attorney."

Fulton retained a Houston lawyer and has filed a lawsuit against the airline in Harris County.

She is hoping to get some compensation for her injuries, pain and suffering. She is no longer able to live independently and has had to hire nurses to stay with her 20 hours a day. It's costing her a fortune.

"I was very independent before and now I can't live alone. They really took my independence away from me," she said.

Attorneys for Fulton said the employee who dropped her worked for a third party vendor, he was a contract worker for the airline and did not work for them directly.

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