HOUSTON – Earlier this year, a video showing a former United Airlines employee pushing a Houston attorney to the ground went viral.
A lawsuit seeking more than $1 million in damages soon followed, alleging the incident left the 73-year old lawyer with “diminishing cognitive function.”
And now, plaintiff Ronald Tigner, a Cozen O’Connor attorney, is claiming that United, in response to his suit, is making “overreaching discovery” requests – essentially engaging in a prohibited “fishing expedition” in search of “dirt” that can be used “to try and embarrass” and “intimidate” him from pursuing his lawsuit.
Claiming he suffered a closed-head injury, Tigner filed suit against United on June 7 in Harris County, also naming Alejandro Anastasia, the former airline employee who pushed him, and Ianthe Phillips-Allred as defendants.
The incident transpired more than two years ago.
On July 21, 2015, Tigner was attempting to catch a flight out of Bush Intercontinental Airport when he allegedly received a boarding pass that was “illegible” that United refused to reprint.
TSA then refused to allow him to pass through the security checkpoint “because of the illegible pass,” obliging him to proceed back to the United ticketing area.
When Tigner approached Anastasia and Allred for help, they allegedly refused to offer assistance and instead laughed and cursed at him. The encounter ended with Anastasia pushing Tigner to the ground and allegedly causing the attorney’s head injury.
However, in a countersuit filed in July, Anastasia claims Tigner was “shouting profanities and racial slurs” and even instigated the physical encounter.
Court records show the parties are now currently locked in a heated discovery battle.
On Dec. 7, Tigner filed a response to a United motion to compel discovery, seeking to prevent the airline from obtaining his tax returns, time records, vacation records, bank account records, credit reports, evidence of any indebtedness, attorney client communications, pleadings and “every piece of paper” in his personnel file.
United is seeking the records because Tigner is claiming damages for his diminishing cognitive function, which has allegedly impacted his ability to practice law.
However, Tigner claims his medical records demonstrate that the documents are not relevant because he “told his doctors that he had compensated for the cognitive impairment he suffered” by working more hours and making to-do lists.
“As such, his salary has not changed, and employment records … and tax returns will not document a change in his past work performance; however, Tigner more likely than not will suffer impairment in the future,” the response states.
“Therefore, the documents Defendants seek are not relevant because they will not demonstrate whether Tigner’s future cognitive impairment is more or less likely and Tigner is not seeking to recover for the extra hours he had to work to compensate for any cognitive impairment he may have suffered in the past.”
Tigner maintains United seeks his records to “justify what they did to him,” and that records related to his practice cannot prove or disprove his ability to continue his legal practice because most legal filings are a collaboration of lawyers, clerks, paralegals and secretaries and do not show a “lawyer’s mental capabilities for practicing law.”
Katy attorney William Hoke represents him.
Harris County District Court Cause No. 2017-37998