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United Airlines agrees to preserve evidence from flight where man was dragged off plane

United Airlines and the city of Chicago have agreed to keep video and other records from a flight where a passenger who refused to give up his seat was dragged off the plane, the passenger’s attorney said.

Attorneys for the passenger, Dr. David Dao, took the first step toward a lawsuit last week, asking the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois for an order requiring United and the city to preserve records of the incident and the personnel files of the Aviation Department officers who pulled Dao from the plane.

A hearing scheduled for Monday was canceled because United and the city “agreed to preserve and protect the evidence requested,” Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, said in a statement.

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United declined to comment, citing the potential litigation. “Our focus is reviewing our policies so something like this doesn’t happen again,” spokesman Jonathan Guerin said.

Dao, 69, of Elizabethtown, Ky., was one of four passengers picked to be bumped from an April 9 flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Ky., to make room for airline employees who were added to the flight shortly before it departed.

When Dao refused to leave his seat, Aviation Department officers dragged him off the plane. Dao suffered a significant concussion, a broken nose and a sinus injury and lost two front teeth, according to Demetrio, who said the incident probably will result in a lawsuit.

Videos of the incident went viral, and United has faced fierce criticism.

The airline has said it is reviewing its policies around oversold flights. Results of that review are expected by the end of the month. The airline already has announced some changes, including requiring United employees traveling for work to book seats at least an hour in advance to avoid displacing customers already on board an aircraft.

United also said it will not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from flights unless it is a matter of safety and security and plans to improve training programs “to ensure our employees are prepared and empowered to put our customers first.”

lzumbach@chicagotribune.com

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