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Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Dog Bites > Emotional Support Pitbull Injures Child at Airport

Emotional Support Pitbull Injures Child at Airport


Service animals serve a variety of roles. From helping the blind see to learning to predict the onset of a seizure, service animals have become invaluable allies to the humans that need them. Under the law, they are not considered pets and have elevated status. Their owner’s right to have them is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and landlords are prohibited from denying those with service animals access based on a no-pets policy. But what about “emotional support animals”?

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals require no special training and do not have certification as a service animal. They are not granted any special rights under the law and a landlord can deny a tenant the right to have an emotional support animal on their property. In other words, ‘emotional support animals’ have no special rights while service animals do.

Emotional Support Pitbull Bites Child

In December of 2017, a pit bull whose owner claimed it was an ‘emotional support animal’ injured a five-year-old girl. According to the incident report, the girl attempted to pet the pit bull when it attacked her. The plaintiffs contend that she got the permission of the dog’s owner before she pet it. She sustained injuries to her face which her attorneys say caused permanent scarring, muscle and tendon damage. The girl’s parents have filed a lawsuit and are asking for over $1 million for the girl’s pain and suffering and permanent disfigurement. Not only have they named the dog’s owner in the lawsuit for negligent dog ownership, they have also named the Portland International Airport claiming that their policy created a security risk to others.

Do They Have a Case against the Airline?

It’s hard to say. The plaintiffs will need to prove to a jury not only that the airline is liable for the assault but that they should be liable for the assault. In negligent security cases, public venues are tasked with the positive responsibility of ensuring the safety of those who are invited onto their property. In cases where they neglect that duty and injuries result, they should be held liable under civil tort laws. On the other hand, when the case goes before a jury, the jury is tasked with assigning blame to named defendants. While it is fairly obvious that the woman who owned the dog would be responsible (unless the child provoked the dog) it may be hard for a jury to extend that blame to the airport based on their policy.

In other words, the plaintiffs do have a lawsuit against the airport, but whether or not a jury will believe that the airport should be held liable is another question entirely. If the plaintiffs only succeed in convincing a jury that the plaintiff should be held liable, the defendant can turn around and discharge the debt they owe in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Talk to a Jacksonville Dog Bite Attorney

Gillette Law represents those injured by negligent dog owners in Jacksonville. If you’ve been injured by a dog bite, give our Jacksonville dog bite lawyers a call or talk to us online and we can begin preparing your case immediately.




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