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‘You Can’t Do This to Somebody That’s Disabled’: Frustrated St. Louis Man Says American Airlines Refuses to Reimburse $26K Prosthetic Leg He Lost During Flight, He Was Offered $600 Instead

A St. Louis handicapped man is livid with American Airlines, claiming his prosthetic leg was lost during a 2020 flight from Indianapolis to St. Louis.

What makes his plight even more mind-boggling for him is that despite submitting a claim and following the company’s missing items protocols, the airline still has not reimbursed him.

St. Louis Man Says American Airlines Refuses to Reimburse Him for $26K Prosthetic Leg Lost During His Flight
Michael Williams (Photo: FOX 2 St. Louis/ YouTube screenshot)

Michael Williams says he has been working with AA for almost three years, hoping to find some resolution for his expensive appendage. However, he believes the company, whose website says its “purpose is to care for people on life’s journey,” is not being helpful in closing out his claim.

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“You can’t do this to somebody that’s disabled. Just say, ‘Hey, we lost something of yours, but we’re not going to pay for it,’” Williams said to Fox 2 Now.

The leg was lost somewhere between the Indianapolis International Airport, the layover in Charlotte, and Williams’ arrival at Mound City.

“They roll me downstairs to the baggage claim. I’m sitting there waiting for my luggage to come off, and it never comes off,” Williams recalled.

He explained that before boarding the flight, he checked the bag in with a service clerk. He also said the bag was marked “fragile.”

According to Williams, after no one at the airport could help him locate his prosthetic leg, he submitted a claim through the airline’s delayed or damaged baggage protocols system and verified what he lost.

The filing went through, but only a partial payment was rendered to the man. He received $600, which was not to cover the $26,650 artificial leg.

“When I spoke with the young lady that was handling the claim, she told me this was to cover the clothes that you lost. I was like, ‘Ok, fine, great,’” he said.

Williams asked about receiving compensation for his leg a few weeks later, and a representative allegedly told him, “We don’t have enough proof or evidence to pay for the leg, so we’re not going to pay for the leg.”

The man’s biggest issue is that the aluminum leg was custom fit for him, a rarity for the artificial appendage.

“When you find the one that works, that’s the one you want to hold onto,” Williams explained, adding he hopes the company reconsiders reimbursing him for the artificial limb.

For the St. Louisan, this experience has traumatized him in ways he never imagined.

“It’s to the point where I don’t want to fly. I feel like if I fly again, what if I have to fly with my wheelchair and they lose my wheelchair this time,” said Williams. “And they tell me, ‘We lost your power wheelchair, but hey, we’re not going to do anything about it.’ It’s like, what do you do?”

Texas native Emily Tuite had a similar experience, losing her waterproof prosthetic leg on a three-hour flight from Austin to San Diego on Sept. 1, 2022.

Like Williams, she said she spent hours talking with Allegiant Airlines employees about getting her property back or at least being reimbursed. She said she too hit a dead-end, according to Fox 8.

One agent told her that the bag with the leg in it was never placed on her flight, even though Tuite had with her the slip and tracking number given to her at the counter when she checked in the luggage.

Tuite thought someone stole her bags, but weeks later was informed that the tags had been accidentally switched with another traveler.

“So they were calling that person saying, ‘We have your bag,’ and that person was saying, ‘It’s not mine.’ Meanwhile, I’m frantic, panicked, thinking that my items are gone, like just stolen from the airport, so I really learned a lesson for sure about flying and tracking your stuff,” Tuite said.

The airline released a statement celebrating how hard they worked to get Tuite her bags. They also announced, “We gave Ms. Tuite a refund in the amount of $60, which covers her baggage fees. In addition, we kindly asked Ms. Tuite to submit receipts for compensation and processing.”

Williams has not heard any about the location of his leg and has had to hire a lawyer to assist with his fight to get compensation for his lost property.

American Airlines has not publicly spoken about Williams’ case.

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