DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of Iowa businessmen filed a lawsuit Wednesday against United Airlines over the death of Simon, a giant rabbit whose lifeless body was discovered in a kennel after a flight from London to Chicago.

The lawsuit comes as United struggles to repair its image after a string of events, including the videotaped forced removal of a 69-year-old doctor from a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and the banning of two young girls from a flight because they were wearing leggings.

The businessmen filed the lawsuit more than three months after airline workers found the continental rabbit dead on April 20. Simon had been placed in a United kennel at O’Hare 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 the three Des Moines-area businessmen who bought Simon with the intention of showing him at the Iowa State Fair and then displaying him 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 that the airline improperly cremated the rabbit.

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