Man mauled by veteran's emotional support dog on board a Delta flight files negligence suit against airline
A man who was allegedly mauled by a veteran's emotional support dog while aboard a Delta flight has filed a lawsuit against the airline as well as the veteran for negligence, according to court documents.
As reported by People, Marlin Jackson who hails from Alabama, took his seat on a Delta flight which was bound to San Diego in June 2017. He claims that the emotional support dog, a chocolate Labrador, started to growl when he sat down. As per documents filed in Fulton County, Georgia State, the animal "was so large that it encroached into the aisle seat and window seat".
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the veteran Ronald Kevin Mundy Jr had allegedly assured Jackson that the dog was safe. When Jackson tried to put his seat belt on, the dog allegedly jumped at his face and bit him several times as he was pinned against the plane window. Mundy Jr managed to pull the dog away momentarily when it broke free and bit Jackson's face again.
As a result of the attack, Jackson was left with deep gashes to the face. He also had large amounts of blood loss from his injuries which caused "the entire row of seats to be removed from the airplane," according to the lawsuit.
Jackson had to receive around 28 stitches on his face and now suffers from "severe physical pain," scarring as well as loss of sensation to the affected areas of his face. The lawsuit states, "Mr. Jackson continues to endure, and will likely experience future emotional distress and mental anguish relate to this attack."
"[He] sustained lost life enjoyment and his entire lifestyle has been severely impaired by this attack," the filing continued. The dog's owner is a US Marine Corps veteran from North Carolina. The lawsuit also states that the airline Delta was negligent in not verifying whether the dog had been properly restrained, placed in a kennel, or had been trained with the requirements of a service animal.
Delta released a statement saying, "Delta continuously reviews and enhances its policies and procedures for animals onboard as part of its commitment to health, safety and protecting the rights of customers with disabilities. In 2018, Delta tightened its policies on emotional support animals by requiring a ‘confirmation of animal training’ form as well as other official documentation."
"The airline also banned pit bulls and animals under four months of age as service or support animals. These policy updates reinforce Delta’s core value of putting safety first, always," the airline continued.
According to Jackson's attorney's J. Ross Massey and Graham Roberts from Alexander Shunnarah & Associates believe that even though the airline has made changes in their policy, they should still be held accountable for the policies they say were not followed at the time to the attack. "Although we are aware that this incident has forced Delta to review and amend its policies, we are still seeking answers as to why the policies Delta had at the time regarding the animal’s size, accommodation, and placement were not enforced," the firm shared.
"Preventing danger is not solely achieved by establishing a new rule after harm has occurred, but also by simply following the rules which existed prior to the harm. The attack on Mr. Jackson would not have happened had Delta enforced their own pre-existing policies concerning animals in the cabin," they added.
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