April 12 (UPI) -- The man who was physically removed from a United Airlines flight this week for refusing to be bumped to make room for a flight crew appears to be preparing for a lawsuit against the carrier.
Lawyers for David Dao, a Louisville area physician, on Wednesday asked a judge to order United and a Chicago aviation company to preserve their documentation of the incident, which occurred Sunday on a flight from Illinois to Kentucky.
The airline sought to bump four passengers from the sold-out flight to make room for a crew of four so they could get to Louisville for a "downline connection." Dao, though, refused to be bumped and was dragged off the plane by armed police -- in full view of other passengers and their smartphones.
In an emergency motion, attorneys for Dao are asking that surveillance videos, cockpit voice recordings, incident reports, and passenger, crew and employee lists be saved for use in the anticipated lawsuit, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
The incident, which left Dao bloodied, fueled anger and shock online and in news media and prompted a series of apologies from United.
Initially, the airline said employees and police acted appropriately because Dao had been "belligerent" and "disruptive" in refusing to give up his seat. Wednesday, CEO Oscar Munoz distanced himself from that assessment.
"This will never happen again," he told Good Morning America."We are not going to put a law enforcement official onto a plane to take them off ... to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger. We can't do that."
The chief executive also went back on his initial classification of Dao as a disruptive passenger and said he wasn't at fault for the breakdown.
"No, he can't be," Munoz said. "He was a paying passenger sitting in a seat in our aircraft, and no one should be treated that way, period."
Munoz has also said all the passengers on the Chicago-to-Louisville flight will be reimbursed for the cost of their tickets.
"I think my reaction to most issues is to get the facts and circumstances," he added. "My initial words fell short of truly expressing the shame."
United has taken a tremendous public beating since the ordeal Sunday, prompting relentless criticisms on social media and from a number of newspaper columnists.
Also Wednesday, a Chicago aviation company also placed the other two officers involved in the incident on leave. The third officer was put on leave Tuesday.