ATLANTA GA - A LAWSUIT WAS FILED IN FULTON COUNTY BY AN ALABAMA MAN WHO WAS ATTACKED ON A DELTA PLANE BY A LARGE "EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG" SITTING ON HIS OWNER'S LAP NEXT TO HIM WHILE PREPARING FOR TAKE OFF
--THE LAWSUIT ALSO ALLEGES DELTA FAILED TO VERIFY THAT THE DOG AS AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL WAS TRAINED AND MET THE SAME REQUIREMENTS AS A SERVICE ANIMAL. --
The lawsuit filed in Fulton County GA state court by attorney J. Ross
Massey, of Birmingham law firm Alexander Shunnarah and Associates
alleges Marlin Jackson was in a window seat when a dog sitting in the lap of the passenger next to him suddenly attacked his face and pinned him against the window of the plane.
“While Mr. Jackson was securing his seatbelt, the animal began to
growl” at him, according to the lawsuit. The dog then bit Jackson
several times. “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.
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. He suffered lacerations and punctures to his face
and upper body requiring 28 stitches and medical treatment, it says.
The lawsuit also alleges Jackson suffered permanent injury and loss
of sensation in areas of his face, “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.
Delta, the suit alleges, “took no action to verify or document the
behavioral training of the large animal,” such as requiring signed
documentation showing the animal is trained and can behave in
the airplane setting. “Such measures were feasible at the time but
were not in effect until after this attack,” according to the complaint.
Delta said it does not comment on pending litigation.
The airline said it “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.”
The lawsuit says Delta was required to exercise ordinary care and
“owed Mr. Jackson an even greater obligation ‘to exercise extraordinary
diligence’” to protect its passengers.
“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
The police report listed the dog’s owner, Ronald Kevin Mundy Jr. of
Mills River, N.C., as a military service member with the U.S. Marine
Corps who “advised that the dog was issued to him for support.” The
dog is listed in the police report as a "CHOCOLATE LAB POINTER MIX"?
According to the lawsuit, Mundy, seated in the middle seat of Row 31,
held his dog on his lap. “The animal was so large it encroached into the
aisle seat and window seat,” the complaint says.
The suit alleges Delta was negligent by allowing a passenger on board
with a large dog without any verification of training or proper restraints to
protect others, and not warning others of the dangers of unsecured
animals on its plane so they could protect themselves. It also alleges
Delta failed to require a kennel for the dog or failed to verify that the dog
as an emotional support animal was trained and met the same requirements
as a service animal.
The suit also alleges that Mundy “knew or in the exercise of reasonable
care, should have known that his large animal was foreseeably dangerous,
especially when confined to the cramped and anxious quarters of the
passenger cabin of an airplane.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called and sent messages to Mundy
and his family members but had not yet reached him for comment by
The suit seeks damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical
expenses and emotional pain, suffering and mental anguish.
June 2017: Delta passenger Marlin Jackson is mauled by another passenger’s emotional support dog.
March 2018: Delta requires passengers traveling with emotional support animals to submit a “confirmation
of animal training” form signed by the passenger indicating the animal can behave, along with other documentation. United Airlines implements a similar policy.
May 2018: The U.S. Department of Transportation begins taking public comments as it considers changing regulations of service animals and emotional support animals on flights.
July 2018: Delta bans pit bulls as service or support animals on flights, and limits each passenger to one emotional support animal. The airline says it is due to growing safety concerns after two employees
were bitten by a passenger’s emotional support animal.
September 2018: Southwest Airlines limits emotional support animals to one dog or cat per customer.
No other types of animals such as turkeys, pigs or peacocks are allowed.
November 2018: Delta apologizes after a passenger on a flight from Atlanta to Miami says he ended up
with dog feces on his shoes and pants after sitting in his seat on the plane. Delta says an emotional
support animal on a previous flight became ill, and the area was not appropriately cleaned afterward.
December 2018: Delta bans puppies as service or support animals when under 4 months old, and
bans emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours.