- A man is suing Delta Air Lines over an incident where another passenger’s emotional-support dog mauled his face during a flight from Atlanta to San Diego in June 2017.
- Marlin Jackson says he was sitting in a window seat when the dog pinned him against the window and bit his face several times. He said he needed 28 stitches.
- Jackson’s complaint, filed in Georgia last week, claims that Delta was negligent in allowing a “large, untrained, and unrestrained” animal to get so close to him and that it failed to follow its own policies.
- Delta acknowledged the attack in a January 2018 statement announcing changes to its rules about animals on flights. Delta told The Washington Post that it does not comment on pending litigation.
- Jackson is also suing the dog’s owner, named in the suit as Ronald K. Mundy.
- Scroll down to see the full legal document.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A man is suing Delta Air Lines and another passenger after he was mauled by an emotional-support dog on a plane in June 2017 in an attack that he said left him needing 28 stitches.
Marlin Jackson, from Alabama, was sitting in the window seat on a flight from Atlanta to San Diego when the dog on the lap of the passenger next to him lunged at his face, a lawsuit filed last week in court in Georgia’s Fulton County says.
The lawsuit says the animal bit Jackson “several times while pinning him against the window of the aeroplane” and accused Delta of negligence for not preventing the attack.
The complaint, seen by Business Insider, says that Jackson asked the owner several times whether the animal was safe and that he was told that it was.
The suit says the animal growled at Jackson, started to attack him, was briefly pulled away, then mauled him a second time before being removed.
The lawsuit says Jackson bled so much “that the entire row of seats had to be removed from the aeroplane.”
The lawsuit says the attack “caused extensive facial damage including deep lacerations and punctures to the nose and mouth,” leaving Jackson needing 28 stitches, having permanent facial scarring, and facing “ongoing medical treatment.”
It says that Jackson was left with “emotional distress and mental anguish,” that he lost income, and that he incurred “substantial medical bills” from the attack.
The complaint alleges that Delta “took no action to verify or document the behavioural training of the large animal.” It described the dog as “large, untrained, and unrestrained.”
It also says the dog’s owner, identified as Ronald K. Mundy, should have been aware that the pet was a danger to passengers.
Delta changed its policies on emotional-support and service animals following what it said was an increase in reports of attacks on passengers.
In announcing the policy change in January 2018, it acknowledged the attack on Jackson, describing it as “a widely reported attack by a 70-pound dog.”
Delta said it would require passengers to “provide a signed document confirming that their animal can behave to prevent untrained, sometimes aggressive household pets from travelling without a kennel in the cabin.”
Delta now says that carry-on pets must remain in a kennel on the aircraft, but its policy on service and emotional-support animals says that the animal “may ride in the passenger’s lap for all phases of the flight” as long as it “is no larger than a lap held child” and is “of a size to not exceed the ‘footprint’ of the seat.”
Jackson’s lawsuit says the dog “was so large that it encroached into the aisle seat and window seat.”
Jackson’s attorneys told HuffPost that they knew Delta had updated its policies since the attack but that it also did not follow the policies in place at the time.
“The attack on Mr. Jackson would not have happened had Delta enforced their own pre-existing policies concerning animals in the cabin,” they said.
Delta told The Washington Post that it does not comment on pending litigation, saying only that it “continuously reviews and enhances its policies and procedures for animals onboard” and pointing to its 2018 policy updates that included confirmation of training for support animals.
Delta said last year that it carries about 700 service or support animals a day. Unlike service animals, emotional-support animals are not trained to perform tasks like guiding a person or pushing a wheelchair, so they are classified differently in the US.
Other airlines have also introduced policies as they struggle to deal with an increasing number of passengers flying with service or support animals, like peacocks.
Southwest Airlines announced in 2018 that it would not allow insects, spiders, or rodents to fly with passengers but would allow miniature horses, cats, and dogs.
And American Airlines announced this year that it would allow only one emotional-support animal per passenger and that service and support animals under the age of four months would not be allowed on flights.
Read the full complaint against Delta here:
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