The passenger, Michael Mennella, was nothing of the sort it turns out. Rather, he is a double amputee and requested a wheelchair - which the airline had failed to provide.
Without the assistance of a wheelchair, Mennella was forced to make his way to his seat despite having lost his feet in a car accident years before. The effort left him in extreme pain, and he needed to take medication after he took his seat.
Deciding to ask for some water to take the pills, Mennella got up an hobbled down the aisle. An action which the staff interpreted as ‘extreme intoxication’, and prompted them to call the cops.
The lawsuit alleges that the staff told other passengers that Mennella was drunk and the flight was being rerouted to drop him off at a different airport.
In front of a plane full of passengers. Mennella was escorted of the plane by police and into the airport.
According to the lawsuit filed by Mennella, who was traveling for business, police-administered tests revealed he was in fact sober and was a victim of ‘brutish misconduct’ on the part of American Airlines which was not only demeaning, but misrepresented him as drunk and unruly to other passengers.
Miami New Times reports that police statements confirm he was not intoxicated. Mennella also included in his suit an email response from American Airlines which reportedly disagreed with allegations of misconduct on the part of the AA staff.
‘We believe our pilot made the correct decision in this situation,’ it read.
‘And we apologise if you feel otherwise.’