A handicapped man is suing Delta Air Lines after claiming that the airline made him crawl across the tarmac while traveling to and from Nantucket because the airline didn't accommodate his disability that left him unable to walk.
A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Hawaii on July 23 stating that D. Baraka Kanaan, a poet and the founder of an educational nonprofit organization called the Lovevolution Foundation, was "forced to crawl across an airport tarmac, up and down the stairs of an airplane, down the aisle of the aircraft and out of and into his seat" while traveling from Maui to Nantucket and back again last summer, the Cape Cod Times reports.
"Kanaan suffers from paraparesis, a condition that was brought on by severe spinal injuries suffered in a vehicle accident in 2000" leaving him unable to walk, Kanaan's attorneys, Richard Holcomb and Brian Brazier of Honolulu-based Holcomb Law LLLC, wrote in the lawsuit.
Kanaan says he called the airline several weeks before his flight to let them know about his disability and to confirm that he would be given a wheelchair to access the plane's aisle and lift access to board and exit the plane since he can't use his legs.
However when he arrived at Nantucket Airport, the man was allegedly told that the airline didn't have an aisle chair or lift, so he would have to crawl out of the plane and across the tarmac to get to his own wheelchair.
"They basically watched me crawl," said Kanaan according to the Times.
He called to complain to the Delta disability desk after the flight and to make sure that he would be accommodated of his return flight from Nantucket to Maui. However the lawsuit claims that Kanaan was once again left to fend for himself and crawl across the tarmac, up the stairs and down to aisle to get to his seat as there was no special equipment available. He had to use his upper body strength to perform the act.
He claims that none of the employees wanted to help him because they could be held liable if he was injured.
"It was a completely absurd situation," said Kanaan.
Kanaan once again spoke with the Delta disability desk and a Delta corporate spokeswoman who offered him SkyMiles as an apology.
The airline has not yet filed a response and they would not comment on the lawsuit.
Kanaan says that he has since made the trip on Cape Air and hasn't had any problems. he hopes that the jury will determine that Delta violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
"We are appalled by the treatment of Mr. Kanaan by Delta Air Lines, and this is not the first instance of misconduct by Delta Air Lines towards disabled people, and we hope in Mr. Kanaan's case, he can be vindicated in court," said Brian Brazier, one of Kanaan's attorneys.
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