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Disabled Maui man, Delta Air Lines settle claim

By: SAM EIFLING
April 21, 2014 Updated: April 21, 2014 at 8:00 pm
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HONOLULU (AP) — A partially paralyzed Maui man who claimed airline workers forced him to crawl on and off flights in 2012 has settled his lawsuit against Delta Air Lines, his lawyer said Monday.

Baraka Kanaan sued Delta last year after he claimed the airline didn't provide him a wheelchair or other assistance on two flights in 2012.

Kanaan has been unable to walk since an accident in 2000. His lawsuit said he had to crawl across the tarmac, up and down the plane's stairs and down the aisle to his seat coming to and leaving Nantucket, Mass. The suit said the ordeals were humiliating and caused wrenching pain a week before he was scheduled to have spinal fusion surgery.

Kanaan's lawyer, Brian Brazier, confirmed that the suit has been settled. He said the terms are confidential.

A call to Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. for comment was not successful.

The lawsuit accused Delta of negligence and of noncompliance with the Airline Carrier Access Act because the airline didn't have an aisle chair to help Kanaan to his seat, nor a lift to get him up and down the stairs, nor any assistance to get him from the plane to his wheelchair.

"Purportedly fearful of liability," the suit stated, "the flight crew refused to assist Mr. Kanaan, instead serving as spectators themselves."

Kanaan called the airline to arrange for help before both flights, the lawsuit said. Both times, the airline assured him that he would be accommodated. When he arrived for his return flight, the airline did offer a piece of cardboard to allow him to crawl across the tarmac without sullying his clothes. Kanaan found the offer unhelpful.

Later, as he was recovering from surgery on his spine, Kanaan called the airline to complain, the lawsuit stated. Delta representatives offered him 25,000 frequent-flier miles to make things right, then reduced the offer by half when he pressed further. He then filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration that went nowhere. Kanaan filed his lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Hawaii last June.

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Sam Eifling can be reached at http://twitter.com/sameifling .

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