Man sues airlines and owner of “emotional support dog.”
I hope he wins…especially against the owner.
Marlin Jackson was in a window seat June 2017 flight, while serviceman Ronald Kevin Mundy Jr was in the middle seat next to him with the ‘chocolate lab pointer mix’ sat unrestrained on his lap.
Jackson, 44, says the dog growled at him as he fastened his seatbelt, and then suddenly attacked his face and pinned him against the window of the plane.
The attack, which took place before takeoff on the flight from Atlanta to San Diego, left Jackson with a series of punctures and cuts to his face requiring 28 stitches, as well as permanent nerve damage and pain, the lawsuit states.
Jackson, who lives in Alabama, ‘bled so profusely that the entire row of seats had to be removed from the airplane,’ according to the complaint.
The lawsuit also alleges Jackson still experiences ‘severe physical pain and suffering,’ emotional distress and mental anguish, loss of income or earning potential, and substantial medical bills.
‘His entire lifestyle has been severely impaired by this attack,’ the litigation states.
‘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,’ the lawsuit alleges.
Following the attack, airlines were prompted into a series of policy changes for emotional support and service animals, with greater scrutiny on the pets before allowing them to be taken on-board.
The suit also alleges that Delta ‘took no action to verify or document the behavioral training of the large animal,’ such as requiring evidence that the animal was well trained and capable of behaving in a high-stress environment.
‘Such measures were feasible at the time but were not in effect until after this attack,’ according to the complaint.
Following the attack, the airline tightened restrictions on emotional support animals by requiring documented evidence of their suitability and training, and banned pit bulls from being used as emotional support animals.
The police report listed the dog’s owner, Ronald Kevin Mundy Jr. of Mills River, North Carolina, as a military service member with the U.S. Marine Corps who ‘advised that the dog was issued to him for support.’
The lawsuit alleges that Delta was negligent in its duties by allowing a passenger on board with a large dog without any proof of training or proper restraints.
It goes on to allege that the airline put no proper precautions in place and did not warn other passengers of the dangers of the unsecured animal on their plane.
Finally, it alleges that Delta failed to require a kennel for the dog, or even verified that the emotional support dog was trained to the same requirements as a service animal.
The suit seeks damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and emotional pain, suffering and mental anguish.
A Delta Air Lines spokesperson, said: ‘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.’