Virgin Australia fined for refusing blind man's guide dog on board
- Written by George Sensalis
Australia's Federal Court overturned a ruling ordering Virgin Australia to pay compensation for not allowing a blind man to take his guide dog on board between 2010 and 2012.
Mr David Mulligan started legal action against Virgin Australia in 2013 after the airline refused to accept his guide dog for carriage in the cabin between 2010 and 2012.
In the original lawsuit, the blind man argued the airline breached the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992.
Between 2010 and 2012 Virgin management repeatedly questioned the guide dog's eligibility to travel in the main cabin. Mr Mulligan's legal team pointed out that Civil Aviation Safety Authority legislation states trained and certified guide dogs are permitted to travel in the cabin.
Despite the evidence, Judge Alexander “Sandy” Street of the Federal Circuit Court dismissed Mr Mulligan's lawsuit. Following the initial ruling, the blind man launched an appeal.
Overturning the original ruling, The Federal Court said: “Any experienced judge may have hesitated – and, perhaps, avoided error.” The Court commenced its consideration of the appeal with the sentence: “The primary judge’s reasons for judgment reveal numerous appellable errors.”
The Court ordered Virgin Australia to pay AUD 10.000 (GBP 5.200 / EURO 6.700 / USD 7.500) "due to stress Mr Mulligan suffered as a result of the unlawful conduct".
Virgin Australia was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing.