A disabled man in Haiku, Hawaii is suing Delta Airlines after he was allegedly forced to crawl on and off a plane because the aircraft wasn’t equipped to handle his partial paralysis.
Baraka Kanaan, 40, filed a lawsuit on July 23 in U.S. District Court against Delta Airlines and 20 of the company’s employees, ABC News reports. Kanaan, who is partially paralyzed, is suing for damages stemming from the “intense physical and extreme emotional suffering” that he claims to have suffered during the ordeal.
“I basically had to let myself down from my chair and then pull myself with my arms, grunt-style like they do in basic training,” Kanaan told Hawaii News Now. “My initial feeling was absolute shock, kind of like Twilight Zone feeling.”
Kanaan’s lawsuit claims that was he forced to endure “appallingly outrageous treatment” on two occasions -- his July 27, 2012, flight from Hawaii to Nantucket, Mass., and a return flight to Maui on July 29, ABC News reports. On each flight, Kanaan was allegedly told that Delta Airlines did not possess wheelchair accommodations, forcing the 40-year-old to “crawl down the aisle of the airplane, down the stairs of the aircraft and across the tarmac to his wheelchair without any assistance,” his complaint states.
“People who were able-bodied were standing around with their arms crossed watching me crawl, watching me under the guise they could not touch me lest they were liable,” Kanaan told Hawaii News Now. He added that each incident caused additional injury to his back. Kanaan’s legs were partially paralyzed in a 2010 car accident.
Commercial airlines are subject to the Air Carrier Access Act, which requires such companies to provide disabled passengers “with a lift, aisle chair, and other equipment as needed or requested,” Kanaan’s lawsuit notes. While Delta Airlines officials attempted to compensate Kanaan with 25,000 flight miles and a cash voucher, the 40-year-old claims that the perks were not sufficient to alleviate his concerns of being forced to crawl on future flights.
Kanaan hopes that his ordeal will alert the public to similar mistreatment endured by disabled individuals throughout the country. “We are primarily seeking vindication,” Rick Holcomb, Kanaan’s attorney, told ABC News. My client does not want this to happen to other people.”