Delta passenger Marlin Jackson and his wife, Azure Joiner-Jackson, before Jackson was attacked by an emotional support dog seated next to him on a Delta flight. Source: Alexander Shunnarah & Associates

Lawyer: Delta passenger mauled by support dog still dealing with trauma

A man mauled by an emotional support dog on a Delta Air Lines flight is still dealing with the effects from the “traumatic event,” his attorney says.

J. Ross Massey, an attorney with law firm Alexander Shunnarah & Associates, said Marlin Jackson has had a successful recovery after being attacked by the large dog on a Delta plane in 2017. 

But “he is still dealing with the effects from the incident” that occurred during boarding of a flight from Atlanta to San Diego, Massey said. “It’s still a pretty traumatic event that he deals with.”

» RELATED: Delta passenger bitten by emotional support dog couldn’t escape, says attorney

Jackson has scars and sensitivity and numbness in his upper mouth, Massey said.

“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
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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.

About the Author

Kelly Yamanouchi
Kelly Yamanouchi
Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.
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