HOUSTON - A jury has decided in favor of a Florida woman who filed suit, alleging an employee of a United Airlines service provider dropped her while transferring her from a wheelchair to her seat on the plane.
Erica Fulton was awarded $3.8 million Jan. 22. Fulton’s case was argued in Texas Southern District Court.
“I was surprised that the verdict was so high, but I understood it,” Fulton said, claiming United Airlines ignored her claims of being dropped, leaving her no other option than to sue the airline, Air Serve, a service provider of United Airlines, and John Doe, the unidentified Air Serve employee accused of dropping Fulton in September 2016.
Houston was a layover stop for Fulton, who was traveling to Austin from Tampa, Florida, where she lived.
“He lifted me from under my arms, so I had no control of my arms, and he got me to almost standing position and tried to move me, and it all happened very quickly,” Fulton told KPRC2. “The next thing I knew, I was falling sideways, and my shoulder hit just under the window of the airplane on the wall, and I was crumbled upon the floor.”
Fulton was wheelchair-bound before the fall. She has a degenerative condition affecting her spine and cannot walk as a result. The fall caused bruising and other injuries that Fulton said still cause problems.
“The rotator cuff was torn, and a muscle was detached. They weren’t able to reattach the muscle,” she said.
Fulton said she lost the use of one of her arms as a result of her injuries.
While a jury may have ruled in Fulton’s favor, her legal fight is far from over. Fulton’s legal team expects United Airlines to appeal the ruling.
“They filed yesterday what are called posttrial motions, so yes, we’re expecting an appeal,” said Sean Roberts, Fulton’s attorney.
A spokesperson for United Airlines released a statement to KPRC2:
“Our goal is to provide all of our customers with a safe and comfortable travel experience. We disagree with the court’s ruling and will continue to defend ourselves.”
KPRC2 asked United Airlines to clarify its statement as to whether it would appeal the ruling, but a response was not given.
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