By SCOTT MCFETRIDGE
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A group of Iowa businessmen filed a lawsuit Wednesday against United Airlines over the death of a giant rabbit after a flight from London to Chicago.
The businessmen filed the lawsuit more than three months after airline workers found the continental rabbit named Simon dead on April 20. The animal had been placed in a United kennel in Chicago’s O’Hare airport while awaiting a connecting flight to Kansas City, where his new owners planned to pick him up.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages to cover the costs of the rabbit as well as punitive damages.
Attorney Guy Cook represents three Iowa businessmen who bought the rabbit with the intention of showing him at the Iowa State Fair and then displaying the animal and selling related merchandise to raise money for the annual event.
The lawsuit said United was negligent in the care and transportation of Simon and then improperly cremated the rabbit.
A United spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.
The suit comes as United struggles to repair its image after the videotaped removal of a passenger from a United plane at O’Hare airport. The airline also was recently criticized after two young girls weren’t allowed on a flight because they wore leggings.
The lawsuit alleges United has a poor record of transporting animals, stating the airline accounted for one-third of all animal deaths via U.S. air travel in the last five years.
The suit doesn’t explain how the rabbit died but puts forth several possibilities, including that it was exposed to low temperatures in the cargo compartment or that dry ice might have been left in the same compartment as the animal.