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Delta Airlines Sued After Emotional Support Dog Attacked Passenger

Delta Airlines Sued After Emotional Support Dog Attacked Passenger
Jennifer Billock

Back in 2017, a passenger on a Delta flight was allegedly attacked by an emotional support animal. Now, that passenger is suing the airline for an unspecified amount on grounds of negligence regarding keeping other passengers safe from animals and maintaining proper guidelines with animals on board.

An Atlanta man is suing Delta for an unspecified amount after allegedly being attacked by an animal support dog on a flight in 2017. The man, Marlin Jackson, says Delta was negligent regarding keeping passengers safe and on-board animals in proper restraints. Jackson says the dog attacked him while he was sitting in his window seat, and the dog pinned him to the window and bit his face several times.

“While Mr. Jackson was securing his seatbelt, the animal began to growl,” the lawsuit said, reported by ABC News. “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. … Mr. Jackson sustained lost life enjoyment and his entire lifestyle has been severely impaired by this attack.”

Delta has not yet commented on the lawsuit as it’s still under litigation, but released a statement regarding its animal policies.

“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 said in a statement, reported by ABC News. “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 continuously reviews and enhances its policies and procedures for animals on board as part of its commitment to health, safety and protecting the rights of customers with disabilities.”

Have you had a negative or positive experience with an onboard animal? Join the conversation in the FlyerTalk forums.


[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (10)


  1. Boggie Dog

    May 31, 2019 at 6:19 am

    Animals should be muzzled if they can make contact with other passengers. Better yet would be having all animals in carriers with exceptions made for Guide Dogs and other animals in that category and even then those animals can be muzzled.

    If a person is too fragile to fly for a few hours without their ESA then perhaps they need to travel by other means.

  2. closecover

    May 31, 2019 at 10:55 am

    As someone who has allergies to pet hair and dander (and there is no such thing as a “hypoallergenic” dog to someone who suffers this type of allergy to any degree), you bet I am going to sue if I am incapacitated because someone brings their ESA on board.

  3. alangore


    May 31, 2019 at 11:19 am

    “Allegedly,” when a dog rips a man’s face off in front of a planeload of other passengers?

    Let’s hope this case proves expensive enough to put an end to the whole “emotional support animal” scam. Service animals are trained to not interact with people other than their owners and would never behave like the dog described here.

  4. sfoeuroflyer

    May 31, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    We don’t really know what happened. And certainly let’s not accept the allegations in a legal complaint as being true. All that said, I would rather be in close quarters with dogs than some of the riff raff that inhabits today’s aircraft cabins.

  5. chollie

    May 31, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    I’ve never had a pax rip my face off on a plane.

    Alleged? There are pictures and hospital records of the man’s face and the stitches it took to sew him back up. These injuries were witnessed by the flight crew. Pretty hard to suggest that he faked everything.

    Provocation? Sorry, if your animal is that touchy, your animal does not belong on an airplane or anywhere in public without being muzzled.

  6. fairhsa

    May 31, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    Why is the airline at fault here? Why not the OWNER of the damn dog? He’s the prick who brought an untrained animal into a public space.

  7. 1readyset2go

    May 31, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    I hope he takes Delta for millions. It will be a a wake up call for all airlines. ESA’s are completely out of hand.

  8. topman

    June 1, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Delta, the dogs owner and the doctor who provided the letter stating this is an ESA should be sued. Enough is Enough with these ESA.

  9. ExplorerWannabe


    June 3, 2019 at 6:11 am

    Of course they are going for the money (Delta) but the blame in this should be on the jerky passenger that brought the “emotional support” animal onboard. The airlines have been the unfortunate middleman in these encounnters, labeled as insensitive or unfriendly and sued if they deny the “emotional support” but then blamed when something goes wrong.

    I have no fear of strange animals and welcome properly trained service animals but I have nothing but contempt for people who bring their poorly trained, uncontrolled pets on as “emotional support” animals.

  10. Sabai

    June 3, 2019 at 8:56 am

    I tire of this scam, Guide dogs for the other-abled is a moral imperative; the others should Go Greyhound.

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