Man attacked by emotional support dog on flight sues Delta

Man attacked by emotional support dog on flight sues Delta
Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Minyvonne Burke with NBC News U.S. News
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Marlin Jackson, from Alabama, filed a lawsuit against Delta Air Lines and one of its passengers after he was attacked in 2017 by an emotional support dog.


An Alabama man is suing Delta Air Lines and one of its passengers over his getting mauled by an emotional support dog on a flight in 2017.

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 on Friday in Georgia's State Court of Fulton County.

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 Delta's policy required large emotional support dogs be secured on the floor.

"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," the suit states.

Before taking his seat down, Jackson asked Mundy if the dog would bite and Mundy assured him the animal was safe. As Jackson buckled his seatbelt, the dog started to growl and shift in Mundy's 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. Jackson's face," according to the lawsuit.

NBC News was unable to immediately reach Mundy, whom the lawsuit says is a North Carolina resident.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the dog that attacked Jackson was 50 pounds. Mundy is a military veteran, according to 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.

A Delta spokesperson told NBC News 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 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 spokesperson said in a statement.

In that policy change in December 2018, Delta said it was also banning emotional support animalson 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.

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