A quadriplegic stockbroker has filed a $5.5 million damage suit against American Airlines, accusing the carrier of placing him in a life-threatening position because of his handicap.

Walt Shinault, 29, alleged in a U.S. District Court suit that airline employees blocked his boarding of a plane in Nashville, Tenn. Feb. 17 while he was en route from a White House meeting with President Bush as a spokesman for the National Easter Seals Society.All other ticket holders were allowed to board the Jackson-bound plane, including several who had been on an earlier American Airlines flight with him from Washington, he said.

The suit accuses American of violating the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, which prohibits discrimination because of a person's handicap.