Delta accused of forcing paralyzed man to crawl off of plane
A former college professor who cannot walk has sued Delta Airlines in federal court, claiming that crew members on two flights told him the only way he could get off the plane was to crawl down the aisle, down the steps and across the tarmac.
D. Baraka Kanaan, who lives in Hawaii, filed the suit July 23 in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, against the airlines and 20 unnamed individuals.
Kanaan, who suffers from partial paralysis of his legs stemming from a car accident, said the airline's "outrageous conduct" occurred on two flights he took a year ago.
On July 26, 2012, Kanaan, who is now head of the Lovevolution Foundation, was scheduled to take a series of Delta flights from Maui to Nantucket, Mass., for a conference.
Several weeks before the flight, Kanaan spoke to a Delta customer service representative about needing a lift to get on the plane and an aisle chair to get to his seat, the suit states. The representative assured him that he would be accommodated, according to the complaint.
After his scheduled flight was canceled because of weather, he was booked on another flight the next day. When he arrived in Nantucket, a flight attendent told him the airline did not have an aisle chair or a lift to get him off the plane to retrieve his wheelchair.
According to the complaint, the Airline Carrier Access Act and other federal regulations require airlines to have such equipment for disabled passengers.
When Kanaan asked about his options, the flight attendant said, "I don't know, but we can't get you off the plane," the suit states.
Although a lift was visible at an adjacent gate, Kanaan was forced to crawl out of the plane and across the tarmac without any assistance from the crew and with many people watching, according to the lawsuit.
Kanaan called the airlines to complain and to report that he would need the same equipment for his return trip.
Despite assurances it would be there, the complaint states that when boarding began the needed aisle chair and lift were unavailable but a flight attendant told him they could put down a piece of cardboard so his clothes wouldn't get dirty.
Upon his return home, a Delta representative offered him 25,000 "sky miles" as compensation, which he refused, the suit states.
Kanaan is seeking compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial, according to the complaint.
On Friday, Delta had not filed its response, according to online records.