2 Year Old Bitten By Dog at the Centurion Lounge: Who’s Responsible?

A family is suing American Express and Dallas Fort-Worth airport because their two year old was bitten by a dog in the DFW airport Centurion lounge.

This occurred over the summer before the new Centurion lounge opened at the end of September. So this happened in the original Centurion lounge across from gate D15.

The boy “spotted a dog sitting in its owner’s lap.” The mother reports that it was not in a carrier or leashed.

The Duffys didn’t see what happened next, but they heard it.

“We heard screaming and blood went everywhere,” she said.

That dog bit Rowan in the face.

Panicked, his parents Christine and Jason Duffy rushed him to an urgent care center in the terminal.

Meanwhile, passengers and lounge employees stood by. No one called police.

In the midst of the mayhem, Duffy said the dog owner and her pet simply walked away.

The airport didn’t take action. Local ordinances require reporting of dog bites but the airport explains those rules do not apply to it “because the property is located in multiple jurisdictions.”

The Centurion lounge’s rules for pets are they they must “remain in their carriers and with their owners at all times.” Should American Express staff be required to notice when this rule is being violated and take action? Lounges are often sufficiently crowded that it would be difficult to even notice.

It seems like the issue here ought to be between the family and the dog owner, which doesn’t likely have the deep pockets that American Express or DFW airport does. What do you think, who is at fault here and in what proportion?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Why sue anybody at all?
    Personally I would never sue anybody in this situation.
    A bad thing happened to my kid, I took care of it, maybe s/he got a few stitches our health insurance paid for it, my kid heals up and will be much more careful about approaching dogs probably for the rest of his/her life.

    We were an an outlet mall, our son icked up something, some small metal thing like say a cookie cutter. The edge was so sharp it sliced his finger real bad and we had to take him to ER for stitches. Of course right when it happened the store hovered and saw the offending merchandise so I assume they removed that, but the thought to sue anybody never entered our minds. Not everything bad that happens to you in life needs to be a big money grab.

  2. @Olderwoman it’s all about the money money money. Personally I always tell my kid do not approached and pet anyone’s dog, does not matter how cute he/she looks. You just never know how the dog will react, esp those that are sitting on people lap. They tend to be very protective of their owner. I also tell my kid if they want to pet other ppl dog, please ask the owner permission and see if it’s ok.

  3. It is the dog owner’s responsibility in situations such as this. The fact it happened in a Centurion lounge, public park, airplane, or any other place with other people who are allowed to be there means that the owner needs to take responsibility for actions caused by their property (in this case the dog) if it injures someone else.

  4. There really isn’t enough information in this article to make a determination of who is at fault. Did the child do something to the dog? Did the dog jump off the owner’s lap and bite the child for no reason? We don’t know without seeing the video footage. But here is another side of this story-Since 2014, CBS 11 uncovered eight other cases involving dog bites at DFW Airport. Only half of those reports make any mention of animal control

  5. If AMEX has a rule (kept in carrier) and that rule was broken and lounge staff did nothing about it then AMEX certainly has a part to play here. If the airport spans jurisdictions (one would assume, then, that there were NO local police onsite) then call airport security and hold the dog owner until they arrived. The fact that lounge employees let the dog owner leave also adds culpability.

  6. @carolyn – reason or not the dog owner is at fault here. I live in a neighborhood surrounded by horse properties. Those owners are responsible to keep their animals locked up tightly; even if my child opens a get and a horse gets out it’s the owner’s responsibility to care for damages done by the horse. The dog owner is at fault. And if there is a rule in place to keep dogs in a pet carrier and AMEX did nothing to enforce the rule then AMEX has a piece of this as well.

  7. Just because there is a lawsuit, doesn’t mean that anyone is angling for a million dollar payday. If the family doesn’t have the dog owners information, they may need to sue to lounge in order to obtain it. I can’t imagine stitches at the airport come cheap, even if you have insurance.

  8. Why would the family let their KID near the dog??anywhere!!! It’s a mess that people insist on bringing their untrained dogs and other animals everywhere!! AMEX lounge has their hands tied and must admit the animals!!

  9. The lounge did not follow their own protocol, and additionally let the pet & owner leave. There is a certain culpability here from both parties, especially the pet owner. The very least that person should have done is leave their name & contact info for the child’s medical bills…or at the very least to make sure the child was ok.

  10. Both the owner and the club’s fault. The owner should be responsible for making sure its dog is not in a position to attack anyone either by controlling the dog or training the dog such that the owner takes the risk of keeping it uncontrolled. The owner also did not follow the rules of the club.

    The club is at fault because it didn’t enforce its own rules. In some ways I do not feel that people should be beholden to rules (or laws) that the controlling entity chooses not to enforce.

  11. How did the “parents” not “see” what happened??? I think their parenting skills should be questioned. A two year old should not be allowed to do whatever they please to without being watched! Of course kids are attracted to dogs, which means the parents should have been there all up in the dogs face while allowing their child to touch a stranger’s dog. Or how about, don’t allow your two year old to pet other people’s animals. If a two year old runs into the street and gets hit by a car… who would get the blame? The car that hit the child, the city where it happened, or the parents? I’m really glad the child seems to be ok, but I think the parents should take all blame and responsibility.

  12. Just wondering, anyone that has posted a comment saying the lounge staff should be held responsible…. have “you” ever been to the Centurion Lounge yourself??? Staff are bartenders, waiters and checkin representatives not security!

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