Passenger Sues Delta After Being Attacked By An Emotional Support Dog

In June 2017, an Alabama man was aboard a Delta flight headed from Atlanta to San Diego when he was attacked by another passenger’s emotional support dog. That man is suing Delta airlines and the owner of the dog. The lawsuit was filed in Georgia State Court recently.

Delta is the world’s second largest airline in terms of passengers carried. Photo: pxhere

What allegedly happened

Marlin Jackson was flying from Atlanta to San Diego on Delta flight 1430 during the summer of 2017. The lawsuit states that as Jackson boarded and approached his seat in Row 31, he noticed that fellow passenger – Ronald Mundy – was already seated “with his large dog attempting to sit in his lap”. The lawsuit states that Delta’s policy required large emotional-support dogs to be secured on the floor, which didn’t happen.

The suit states the following:

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“Defendant Delta allowed the large animal to remain in Defendant Mundy’s lap while Delta employees passed through the area in open disregard of said policy,”

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The victim, Jackson, asked Mundy if there was any risk of being bitten but Mundy reassured him that his dog was safe. As Jackson was buckling his seat belt, the dog began growling. This was followed by Jackson asking Mundy a second time if his dog was safe – to which the response was affirmative.

Delta faces accusations negligent hiring, training and supervision. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The lawsuit goes on to say that, without any warning, the dog attacked Jackson and bit his face several times, pushing him up against the window:

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“The attack was briefly interrupted when the animal was pulled away from Mr. Jackson. However, the animal broke free and again mauled Mr. Jackson’s face,”

Extensive facial damage

According to the original court filing, the attacks caused “extensive facial damage including deep lacerations and punctures to the nose and mouth”. The filing goes on to say that Mr. Jackson’s bleeding was so intense that the entire row of seats had to be taken off the aircraft.

In the aftermath of the attack, Jackson was given 28 stitches and ongoing medical treatment “throughout his attempted recovery”. The result has been the incursion of “substantial medical bills”.

Jackson claims that he suffered permanent injury, scarring and loss of sensation to the affected areas of his face. In addition to this, the court filing is seeking damages for loss of income and/or earning potential as well as mental anguish.

Delta at fault?

Among the many accusations of negligence against Delta, the lawsuit says that the airline “breached the standard of care by failing to protect its invitee…from reasonable harm”. Among the many claims, Jackson’s suit is accusing Delta of…

  • Allowing the animal onboard without verification of adequate animal training.
  • Allowing the passenger’s dog onboard without verifying there were any proper restraints on the animal to protect other passengers.
  • Failing to warn guests of the dangers of unsecured animals onboard its airplane so that they could protect themselves.
Delta now requires confirmation of animal training for passenger’s emotional support animals. Photo: Pexels

Delta’s response

According to NBC News, a Delta spokesperson said the airline would not be able to comment on the specific case. However, in 2018 changes were made to its policy regarding emotional-support animals.

The new changes now require a “confirmation of animal training” form, as well as other official documentation. In a statement to media, the Delta spokesperson said:

“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,”

Delta has made changes to its policy since the 2017 incident. Photo: af.mil

Do you think Jackson has a valid claim against Delta Airlines? Have you had any experiences, good or bad, with emotional support animals on flights? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Martin

And this all started because airlines started charging $250 round trip for pets to travel as carry on luggage with same size restrictions.

I bet if bringing a small dog cost as such as my backpack, aka free, there wouldn’t be any emotional support dogs on flights.

Mark

The only animals that should be allowed inside an airliner cabin are homo sapiens – and some of those are questionable.

The utter stupidity of this is unbelievable.

KP

Another case of Delta has money so SUE THEM — can find no indication this sleazeball or his lowlife lawyer going after the OWNER of the dog. Guess the cabin crew should get 357 revolver’s so they can start being in-charge of cabin security.

uzi lowenthal

The pax who had his face bitten to pieces definitely should be paid for the physical and mental damage. Hope that he has a good lawyer.

Su Mei Shen

Some people are not genuine when claim the animal is their support animal, in the fact, those people just want to save money for transportation of their pets. Airlines should be more vigilant about what this kind of customers behaviour..

KP

I am thinking that none of you live in the good old SUE-YOU-FOR-EVERYTHING USA. If Delta, prior to the attack starting making everyone with a support animal provide paperwork, somewhere a legitimate animal would have got refused and BOOM LAWSUIT. Imagine you are the cabin-crew, HOW are you supposed to handle this animal and make it YOUR Responsibility. Business owners get sued if they say NO– that’s discrimination and if they allow what they say they have to — BOOM its their fault too. Reading all the articles and can’t find ANYWHERE where sleazeball who got bitten is doing ANYTHING… Read more »

JayEmm

Such animals should only be allowed if their need is supported by a competent, relevant, registered medical practitioner, not some “I don’t flying so can I take my dog for free” cuckcoo. The world’s suffering from politically correctness madness. Could this be the cause of so many emotional support animals? What’s wrong with Valium?

Art Fern

Two parties should be sued, the airline as well as the owner of the dog. Delta didn’t enforce their own policy, this dog was clearly untrained as well as being too damn large for the small spaces found in today’s sardine cans. I have no sympathy for the airline, for the cabin crew yes, they had to deal with all the chaos as well as insuring the dog was secured. The gate personnel had to have given the approval to board the animal, the captain could have refused to carry the dog, but he or she was likely too busy… Read more »