After United Airlines Fiasco, Victim Gets Criminal Past Exposed

After being publicly humiliated by United Airlines, a man's legal troubles are unveiled by news organizations. Still, it's clear that the company mishandled his case.

UPDATE: Days after the Courier-Journal broke a story regarding physician David Dao's alleged troubles with the law, many on social media started speculating that reporters had dug information on another doctor with the same name who's from Louisiana — not the United Airlines passenger, who's from Kentucky. 

On Twitter, many users accused the journalists of having done a sloppy job by reporting on legal issues that had nothing to do with the bloodied passenger who was dragged out of the United flight Sunday. 

In light of the commotion, the LA Times decided to investigate the claims, promptly finding out that the Courier-Journal had, indeed, reported on the right doctor. 

When contacted for further comment, the receptionist who answered the phone at the Elizabethtown office where Dao's wife works confirmed that both the United Airlines passenger Dao and the Dao with a somewhat troubled past are the same person. 

A second confirmation came from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans where the other David Dao works. 

According to a student worker who talked to reporters at the LA Times but wouldn't identify himself, "The David Dao we have as resident here is not the David Dao on the United flight."

Showing gratitude because someone was finally clearing things up, the student continued: “We have gotten nonstop calls over the past day.”

As you can see, not all you read online is true. 

David Dao, a doctor who was visibly injured after being yanked and dragged out of a United Airlines flight Sunday, became a household name nationwide.

On social media, countless users showed sympathy for the doctor and his wife, who were asked to leave the plane after the company noticed it had to carry four crew members on a full flight.

However, when the Courier-Journal reported on this story — focusing on Dao's troubled past with the law — social media users came to his defense once again, bashing the newspaper for spotlighting the victim's history and not how the company had mishandled the entire ordeal.

The Kentucky doctor had told another passenger Sunday that he needed to be back home the day after the United flight ordeal to see patients. His wife, Dr. Teresa Dao, runs her own pulmonary practice in Elizabethtown. But to many, Dao's personal history became the center of attention.

Reporters discovered that the Kentucky doctor worked as a pulmonologist in Elizabethtown when in 2003, he was arrested and convicted of drug-related offenses. An undercover investigation had found that the doctor had been allegedly involved in passing fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances.

After being convicted of “multiple felony counts of obtaining drugs by fraud,” the Courier-Journal reported, Dao was placed on a five-year supervised probation that started in January 2005. After surrendering his medical license and complying with his sentence's terms, the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure allowed Dao to resume practicing medicine in 2015. Still, he was heavily restricted and wasn't allowed to practice medicine freely.

In 2016, TMZ alleges that further restrictions were imposed on his license, forcing Dao to only practice internal medicine one day out of the week in an outpatient facility.

When profiling the doctor, the Courier-Journal also added that Dao was “sexually involved with a patient who used to work for his practice and assisted police in building a case against him.”

At the time, the doctor denied paying for sex but claimed that he did accept "sexual favors from an associate in exchange for reducing a debt that associate owed him," TMZ added.

But regardless of his past, many have rightly noted that the airline mishandled the case involving the two Kentucky doctors.

While the Department of Transportation has guidelines in place for how airlines must proceed to remove customers on overbooked flights and how passengers can be denied boarding, this doesn't seem to have happened in Dao's case.

At the time, United contacted security officers to physically remove the doctor from the plane after he had already been allowed to take his seat. According to the company's contract of carriage, having an overbooked flight isn't one of the acceptable reasons to refuse transport to a passenger who has already boarded.

As many have noted, this case wasn't one of denied boarding but a case of refusal to transport, and as such, the company may have been in the wrong for punishing a passenger who had already boarded the plane over an overbooking excuse.

Until more information on this case emerges, it's safe to say that passengers should always beware that they have rights as customers that should always be respected, regardless of who they are. 

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters

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