Disabled man literally forced to crawl off airplane sues airline, wins big

File this story under “W” for “What in the world were they thinking?” The they in this case is Delta Airlines, which according to Hawaii News Now forced a disabled passenger to crawl down the aisle of the plane he was traveling on, down a flight of stairs, and onto the tarmac. After being assured by the airline that the incident was a horrible mistake, the man was forced to repeat the humiliating experience in the reverse order on his return flight.

Baraka Kanaan of Hawaii sued Delta last year for twice inflicting on him the ignominy of having to crawl on his hands and knees on flights between the island of Maui and Nantucket.

Kanaan, a former philosophy professor, was partially paralyzed in a 2000 car accident. His lawsuit alleged that on a flight to Nantucket in 2012, workers for a Delta contractor stood by while he tried to get off the plane on his hands and knees.


The terms of the settlement reached yesterday are confidential but the amount of the award to Kanaan is believed to be substantial.

Louis Erteschik, executive director of the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, commented on the outcome:

I think this does send some kind of message that this kind of conduct, this kind of situation is not supposed to happen again.

People with disabilities do incur some difficulties and so it’s important that airlines be held accountable.

When interviewed initially after the traumatic incident, Kanaan told reports:

I can feel literally my spine was like someone had a sledgehammer and they were pounding a ten-inch spike in my sacral, hammering away. My thoracic, I could hear pops and clicks.

Last week, it was reported in this space that a woman left mute by a stroke was turned away from a security checkpoint by TSA agents who refused to let her pass unless she spoke.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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