“The (dog) tooth went underneath the nostril, through the lip and into the gum,” Massey said. That “caused some numbness in the lip and gum area that doesn’t appear to be going away.”
These are the face wounds of Marlin Jackson, an Alabama man attacked by an emotional service dog on a Delta Air Lines flight in June 2017. Source: Alexander Shunnarah & Associates
It took two years to file a lawsuit against Atlanta-based Delta and the passenger with the dog because Jackson was advised to allow a year to 18 months to heal, according to Massey. Injury cases are often filed after there's an understanding of the extent of medical bills, he said.
Jackson is still treating the area with creams to try to minimize scarring and has not yet moved forward on any plastic surgery, according to Massey.
“The long-lasting effects of this affected his overall quality of life, but also affected his ability to do his job,” Massey said.
Jackson works for the federal court system’s clerks division. “He was pretty adamant about trying to return (to work) as quickly as he could,” Massey said. But Jackson “previously traveled significantly” for his job, according to the attorney.
Massey believes Delta had policies in place at the time of the incident that, if enforced, could have prevented the attack.
"What we want to understand first is to what extent they were training their employees about policies," Massey said. "There were several opportunities where eyes could have been laid on this dog and adjustments could have been made," including special accommodations for a larger dog or not allowing the dog to be in a passenger's lap.
Delta declined to comment on the litigation, but 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."
Delta also tightened restrictions on emotional support animals after the incident.