NEW ORLEANS (CN) – United Airlines booted an autistic boy off a flight because he allegedly “posed a safety risk to the other passengers,” his mother claims in a federal lawsuit. She says her son voluntarily wore ankle and wrist restraints before he was removed from the flight with his mother and aunt.
Candice Dincola says she was flying from Chicago to New Orleans with her sister and son, Gavin, when the plane had to return to Chicago for a medical emergency involving another passenger.
Gavin, who is prone to outbursts, “loudly yelled out” when ordered to turn off his portable DVD player, the lawsuit claims. His mother says she and several passengers “were able to calm Gavin by signing to him.”
When the plane landed in Chicago, police officers boarded the plane and ordered Dincola, her sister and Gavin off the plane, according to the lawsuit.
Dincola says she was told that her son was a danger to other passengers, even though he was “voluntarily restrained in his seat through the use of ankle and wrist restraints.”
She says passengers seated near Gavin told the officers that they did not feel threatened, and that removing him was unnecessary.
But a flight attendant said she “feared for her safety,” claiming she saw Gavin “hitting and slapping the woman next to him,” the lawsuit states.
“This was not true,” Dincola claims, as her son “had medical restraints on his wrists and ankles from the time he boarded the flight.”
Despite the objections, Dincola says she, Gavin and her sister were removed from the flight.
Dincola and her minor son are suing United Airlines and Republic Airways under the Air Carrier Access Act, claiming the airline used Gavin’s autism as a pretext for kicking them off the plane.
They are represented by Clifton Davis III of New Orleans.