|Disabled Man Claims Delta Forced Him to Crawl|
|By ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Jul 29, 2013, 8:53 AM|
A partially paralyzed man is suing Delta Airlines, claiming he was forced to crawl on and off his flights and across the tarmac because he wasn't provided with the equipment he needed to board and exit the plane, according to a complaint.
D. Baraka Kanaan, 40, of Haiku, Hawaii, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Hawaii against Delta Airlines and 20 of the carrier's employees and agents. The suit, filed on July 23, seeks damages after he endured "intense physical and extreme emotional suffering" from the ordeal.
In the suit, Kanaan said the airline subjected him to "appallingly outrageous treatment" both on his flight to Nantucket, Mass., on July 27, 2012 and on his flight back to Maui, Hawaii, two days later.
Kanaan, who suffered partial paralysis of his legs after a car accident in 2000, called Delta weeks before his flight to Nantucket, Mass., to let them know he needed an aisle chair and a lift to get off the plane and into his wheelchair, the complaint said. The airline told him he'd be accommodated upon his arrival.
But when his flight landed at Nantucket Airport, he was told by a flight attendant that the airline didn't have the equipment he needed and that the crew couldn't get him off the plane, according to the complaint.
As a result, Kanaan was "forced to crawl down the aisle of the airplane, down the stairs of the aircraft and across the tarmac to his wheelchair without any assistance."
But even though Kanaan reported the problem to Delta and was assured he'd be given what he needed on his trip home, the same thing happened to Kanaan on his flight to Hawaii.
Kanaan was told that neither an aisle chair nor a lift was available to help him on the plane. Once again, he was forced to "crawl across the tarmac, up the stairs of the aircraft, down the aisle and hoist himself into his seat," the complaint said.
The only thing the airline offered him was "a piece of cardboard to put down so his clothes wouldn't get dirty," according to the suit.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act, the airline is required to provide passengers "with a lift, aisle chair and other equipment as needed or requested," the suit said.
While the Delta disability desk offered to compensate Kanaan with 25,000 miles and $100 voucher, the lawsuit also states, the offer was not enough to quell his fears that he'd be forced to crawl again if he flew with the airline.
Kanaan's attorney, Richard Holcomb, told ABC News that while his client was upset that the issue could not be resolved, he's glad that his story is out as the airline has "done other egregious things to disabled people" in the past.
Kanaan's complaint states, "Just a year before, Delta received no less than 5,000 complaints against it and was ordered to pay record breaking fines for its persistent 'egregious' mistreatment of disabled passengers."
A spokesman for Delta Airlines declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.