Lawsuit Claims Double-Amputee Passenger Arrested After American Airlines Denied Him Wheelchair

A recent lawsuit claims a double-amputee man was denied wheelchair assistance, causing a chain of events that led to his arrest. (Photo: Getty Images)

In a lawsuit filed recently, covering events that occurred in August 2016, yet another passenger comes to the fore to describe, if true, more bizarre, unfortunate, and horrible mistreatment at the hands of an airline. Michael Mennella, a double-amputee, describes in the suit being escorted off the plane by police at the behest of the flight crew — stemming from the fact that the airline neglected to reserve a wheelchair for the passenger at his request.

As detailed in the Miami New Times, Mennella, a resident of Miami, arrived at the airport for a trip to Las Vegas. He found out there that the wheelchair he had requested was not available. Mennella lost his feet in a car accident six years ago and requires assistance to travel, but without a wheelchair he had to make his own way to the plane, effort which caused him pain and inflammation.

Once Mennella was on the plane, the events apparently turned even more inconvenient for the man. Mennella claims he repeatedly requested water in order to take medication to alleviate his pain from boarding the plane. He says his requests were repeatedly refused. After attempting to make his way to the rear of the plane to procure water, on his stumps, he was allegedly accused of being “a drunk” and informed that the flight was being diverted to Dallas/Fort Worth due to his unruly behavior. It was there that the man was hauled off the plane by police.

Police reports from the event detail that officers determined Mennella was not intoxicated and would not be facing the “lengthy incarceration” he had been threatened with upon his arrest.

American Airlines has reportedly declined to comment, but the lawsuit claims an email Mennella sent to complain about his treatment was met with the following response: “We believe our pilot made the correct decision in this situation and we apologize if you feel otherwise.”

Ever since David Dao was forcibly dragged off a United flight, there has been a significant increase in stories of passengers claiming airlines have treated them egregiously — many with accompanying video offering corroborating details, as in the case of Dao. Mennella’s story does not appear to have any such evidence and remains in the hands of federal courts.

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