A disabled Maui man who was forced to crawl on his hands and knees by airline workers has reached a legal settlement with the carrier.
Baraka Kanaan made national headlines when he sued Delta Airlines last year, alleging that he was twice forced to crawl down the aisle of his plane, down a flight of stairs and onto the tarmac, even though he is partially paralyzed.
Terms of the settlement are confidential but are believed to be substantial.
"I think this does send some kind of message that this kind of conduct, this kind of situation is not supposed to happen again," said Louis Erteschik, executive director of the Hawaii Disability Rights Center.
"People with disabilities do incur some difficulties and so it's important that airlines be held accountable.
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.
And after he was assured that incident would not be repeated, he was forced to get back on the plane on his hands and knees, the suit said.
"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," Kanaan told Hawaii News Now last year.
"My initial feeling was absolute shock, kind of like Twilight Zone feeling."
There's still some details that need to be worked on the lawsuit before the settlement payments are finalized but that's expected to happen in June.
Both sides declined comment due to a strict confidentiality agreement.
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