Boy with Autism, Kicked off Flight: Mother Sues Airline

(Photo by caribb/Flickr)

Authorities ejected a boy with autism from a United Airlines flight after flight attendants decided that he was putting other passengers at risk.  His mother has responded by filing a federal lawsuit against United Airlines.

The boy’s mother, Candice Dincola, explained that she was flying with her sister and son with autism Gavin to New Orleans from Chicago.  However, the plane was turned around and set course back to Chicago due to a mid-flight medical emergency concerning one of the other passengers.  Gavin was voluntarily wearing wrist and ankle restraints that kept him secured in his seat throughout the flight.

When Gavin was asked to turn off his portable DVD player, he yelled.  As a result of his autism, it is not uncommon for Gavin to have these kinds of tantrums.  His mother and a few surrounding passengers were able to calm him down.

After the plane touched down in Chicago, police boarded the flight and ordered Candice, Gavin, and Candice’s sister off the plane.  The police told Candice that Gavin was a threat to the other passengers, and Candice explained to them that Gavin was restrained to the confines of his seat, and could not possibly be considered a threat.  The passengers surrounding Gavin even spoke up, and said they did not feel threatened and thought that removing the family from the flight was uncalled for.

An important note in this incident is that it was actually a flight attendant, who claimed that she saw Gavin smacking a woman next to him, despite the fact that it was physically impossible for Gavin to do so with the restraints on his wrists.

Regardless, Gavin, Candice, and her sister were all removed from the flight.  The family is now suing under the Air Carrier Access Act.

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