The attack was so severe that Marlin Jackson suffered “extensive facial damage,” including lacerations to his nose and mouth, and bled so profusely “that the entire row of seats had to be removed from the airplane,” according to the suit, which was filed Friday in Georgias State Court of Fulton County.
Man sues after his face is mauled by emotional support dog on Delta Airlines flight
Jackson was seated in a window seat on a Delta flight from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to San Diego International Airport in June 2017, the suit says.
Fellow passenger Ronald Mundy was already in his middle seat “with his large dog attempting to sit in his lap,” according to the suit, which says that Deltas policy required large emotional-support dogs be secured on the floor.
“Defendant Delta allowed the large animal to remain in Defendant Mundys lap while Delta employees passed through the area in open disregard of said policy,” the suit states.
Jackson asked Mundy if the dog would bite and Mundy assured him the animal was safe. As Jackson buckled his seat belt, the dog started to growl and shift in Mundys lap, according to the lawsuit. Jackson again asked if the dog was safe, and Mundy said it was.
Without warning, the dog lunged at Jackson, biting him several times in the face and pinning him against the window, the suit states.
“The attack was briefly interrupted when the animal was pulled away from Mr. Jackson. However, the animal broke free and again mauled Mr. Jacksons face,” according to the lawsuit.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the dog that attacked Jackson was 50 pounds. Mundy is a military veteran, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Jackson required 28 stitches and lost sensation in parts of his face, the suit states. He also experiences “emotional distress and mental anguish” from the attack. Jackson is seeking damages in an amount to be determined by the court.
“Marlin Jackson continues to suffer from the vicious dog attack,” his attorneys J. Ross Massey and Graham Roberts said in a joint statement to NBC News. “The attack on Mr. Jackson would not have happened had Delta enforced their own pre-existing policies concerning animals in the cabin.”
A Delta spokesperson said the airline could not comment on pending litigation, but that in 2018 it changed its policy regarding emotional-support animals by requiring a “confirmation of animal training” form, as well as other official documentation.
“The harm of large, untrained and unrestrained animals in the cabin of an airplane was reasonably foreseeable to Delta, or should have been,” the suit alleges. And Delta “knew or should have known that subjecting passengers and animals to close physical interaction in the confined, cramped and anxious quarters of the cabin, presented a reasonably foreseeable harm”.
“The airline also banned pit bulls and animals under four months of age as service or support animals. These policy updates reinforce Deltas core value of putting safety first, always,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Video: Man files lawsuit after being attacked by dog on flight
In that policy change in December, Delta said it was also banning emotional-support animals on flights that are longer than eight hours. The company made the changes following an 84 percent increase in incidents involving service and support animals in 2016 and 2017.
Airplane Passenger Mauled by Veterans Support Dog Files Lawsuit
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 Georgias Fulton County says.
The lawsuit says the animal bit Jackson “several times while pinning him against the window of the airplane” and accused Delta of negligence for not preventing the attack.
Delta passenger sues after being mauled by emotional support dog
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 airplane.”
Read more: American Airlines is banning many puppies and kittens from flying as emotional-support animals — but some miniature horses are still fine
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.
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.
The complaint alleges that Delta “took no action to verify or document the behavioral training of the large animal.” It described the dog as “large, untrained, and unrestrained.”
Lawsuit filed after Delta passenger mauled by emotional support dog on flight
It also says the dogs 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 traveling 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 passengers 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.”
Jacksons lawsuit says the dog “was so large that it encroached into the aisle seat and window seat.”
Man attacked by veterans support dog sues over negligence
Jacksons 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.
A Delta flight attendant hands out food on a flight to California in 2014. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Image
“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.
An emotional-support peacock that was previously denied on United flight shows the growing problem of pets on planes. CNBC
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.