Last updated: 04:44 PM ET, Thu June 09 2016

Court: Delta Air Lines Doesn’t Have to Ship Big Five Trophy Kills

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | June 09, 2016

Court: Delta Air Lines Doesn’t Have to Ship Big Five Trophy Kills

Photo by David Cogswell

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that Delta Air Lines can’t be sued by a trophy hunter after he filed a lawsuit against the airline because they wouldn’t transport the endangered black rhino he killed back to the United States from Africa.

According to Court House News, Corey Knowlton, a Texan who paid $350,000 to kill the endangered species, was informed by U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn that air carriers have the right to refuse the shipment of items, as long as the policy applies to all customers.

“Delta's policy bans its shipment of Big Five trophies. Obviously, it does not ban the hunting of Big Five game,” Judge Lynn said in court documents. “Such hunters are free to ship allowed cargo with Delta, including trophies of other game. Although, because Plaintiffs are hunters or other parties who benefit from the hunting of the Big Five, Delta's ban negatively affects them, that impact does not mean Delta's decision is unlawful or actionable.”

Knowlton filed his lawsuit against Delta in October 2015 after the airline enacted a new regulation that banned the shipment of Big Five trophies, which includes the African lion, African elephant, African leopard, Cape buffalo and the white or black rhinoceros.

In Knowlton’s lawsuit against the airline, his team stated Delta was robbing “wildlife habitat of its economic value, encouraging habitat conversion to agriculture, grazing, and industry, and undercutting range states' tried-and-true conservation strategy.”

READ MORE: Delta Air Lines Bans Big-Game Trophy Shipments Worldwide

Delta originally fought for the case to be dismissed in January after the company called Knowlton’s claims an "absurdity."

“Although plaintiffs correctly conclude that claims arising out of defamatory conduct would not usually relate to an airline's service, plaintiffs' tortious interference claim in this case does relate to Delta's services,” Judge Lynn continued in court documents. “There is, in fact, no defamatory statement alleged. Delta merely altered the scope of its services by refusing to transport a designated kind of commodity - Big Five trophies. It never said the hunting or transport of such species was unlawful.”


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