David Dao, the Chinese-American doctor who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight in April, suffering a bloody nose in the process, reached an undisclosed settlement with the airline a few weeks ago. And while the specifics of the settlement amount were not made public, Chinese internet users are claiming that Dr. Dao received $140 million from the airline.
As The Washington Post reports, Dao has become something of a cause célèbre in China, and the Chinese, perhaps feeling a sentimental attachment to the plight of an ethnic Chinese person overseas, have concluded that he raked in $140 million in settlement money from the airline.
“Ethnic Chinese passenger receives 140 million U.S. dollars in compensation; Internet users declare they will take United Airlines as long as the beating will not result in death.”
The comment above is not an isolated sentiment; while the Post concedes that some Chinese internet users may be simply making dark jokes, if comments on Weibo – the Chinese version of Twitter – are to be believed, the Chinese are convinced that Dao cleared $140 million.
Post writer Haifeng Huang believes that the Chinese, whose exposure to the media is tightly controlled by the state, and whose social media posts are monitored and censored, are particularly susceptible to rumors and fake news.
“Chinese citizens from diverse sociopolitical backgrounds are similarly susceptible to unsubstantiated rumors. Even Chinese Communist Party members believe rumors implicating the government, and they do so almost as much as non-Party members.”
— China Daily Events (@cdroundtable) May 4, 2017
In fact, there’s no knowing how much money Dr. Dao got in his settlement from United Airlines. Since the two sides settled out of court, and since Dr. Dao almost certainly signed a non-disclosure agreement (a so-called “Gag Order”), the terms of the settlement will probably never be made public.
However, the amount of the settlement is almost certainly nowhere near $140 million.
— Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) May 2, 2017
Mark Borkowski, who runs a U.K. public relations agency, told Talk Radio U.K. that he thinks Dao likely got a check for something in the neighborhood of £1 million (about $1.3 million).
“They’ve corralled him, they’ve obviously got across him very quickly. They’ve obviously been talking to his lawyers, and undoubtedly he got a substantial settlement… The mere fact that he’s locked down means there’s more value in keeping his mouth shut and staying off the radar than actually opening his trap.”
— talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) April 28, 2017
Meanwhile, attorney James Goodnow, an attorney with the Lamber-Goodnow Injury Law Team at Fennemore Craig, speaking to International Business Times, speculated that the settlement is much higher than that.
“Dr. Dao will likely get millions here. The only question is how many zeros will follow the first number.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) April 28, 2017
Similarly, money blog The Squander posits that Dao’s injuries were comparatively minor; his personal possessions weren’t damaged; and he only lost a few days’ worth of income from the incident – factors that would ordinarily point to a comparatively small settlement. However, deep-pocked United Airlines, facing a public relations nightmare, wants to put this matter behind them, and quickly. Thus, the anonymous writer said, United likely coughed up an amount approaching $5-15 million.
How much money do you believe Dr. Dao should have gotten from United Airlines?
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]