Woman sues TSA to stop “invasive” airport searches
Federal lawsuit alleges civil rights violations
By TERI FIGUEROA – firstname.lastname@example.org North County Times – Californian |
A Carlsbad breast cancer survivor who said she endured an “emotionally and physically painful” pat-down at a New Mexico airport is among four people asking a federal court to force the Transportation Security Administration to end its new and controversial security measures.
Adrienne Durso, 54, and three others are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit accusing the TSA of “unnecessarily invasive and degrading practices” that “violate constitutionally protected rights” against unlawful search or seizure.
The agency has increasingly come under fire in recent months since it started using more invasive pat-downs and whole-body imaging scans, which can see through people’s clothing and show the body’s contours.
Calling the new security measures “virtual strip searches and crude full body pat-downs,” the suit is seeking to stop the TSA from using the scans and pat-downs “as the first and primary means of screening for air travelers in the United States.”
Nico Melendez, a TSA spokesman, said Tuesday that he could not comment on the suit because it was pending.
Durso’s lawsuit joins a national chorus of people who have protested the TSA’s new airport security measures.
Among them is Oceanside resident John Tyner, 31, who famously told a TSA agent not to touch his “junk” during a pat-down at Lindbergh Field in San Diego last month.
A recent breast cancer survivor, Durso said Tuesday that she was subjected to a “painful” pat-down on the left side of her chest, where she had a mastectomy last year and now wears a prosthetic device.
“It was emotionally and physically painful,” Durso said of the “aggressive” pat-down at Albuquerque International Sunport on Aug. 25.
After Durso walked through a traditional metal detector, a female TSA agent pulled her aside for a pat-down, according to the suit, filed in federal court in Washington D.C. on Dec. 6.
Durso told the agent she had had a mastectomy of her left breast, and the agent then focused her pat-down on that portion of Durso’s body, “forcefully applied pressure to this and the surrounding area, both by running her hands over and applying pressure to the region,” according to the lawsuit.
Durso, who was with her 17-year-old son, asked to speak with a supervisor.
When her son reportedly asked the supervisor why he was not subjected to a similar pat-down, the supervisor reportedly told him it was because he “didn’t have boobs,” according to the lawsuit.
Durso’s Philadelphia-based attorney, Alex Brodsky, of the firm Drinker Biddle & Reath, said Tuesday that the suit addresses three incidents across the country, including the pat-down of a Kentucky man with an enlarged testicle —- the result of a childhood injury —- who was pulled aside after walking through a body imaging scanner at a Fort Lauderdale airport.
When the man, a business traveler, asked why he was subjected to a pat-down, the TSA agent reportedly responded by asking the man what he had in his pants.
“It became apparent to him that the machine could not tell the difference between an enlarged testicle and an explosive device,” Brodsky said.
According to the suit, the man protested and asked to leave the airport, but eventually agreed —- “out of fear and intimidation” —- to be taken to a private room for a pat-down.
Once there, a TSA agent “aggressively touched” the man’s testicles over his pants, running his hands multiple times over the swollen testicle and surrounding groin area.
The third incident involved a 12-year-old girl who was traveling with family friends on June 26 when she was allegedly singled out at random to walk through the body scanner at Tampa International Airport in Florida.
The child was “frightened and traumatized” by the incident, according to the lawsuit.
What’s more, the body imaging scan of the child violated the religious beliefs of the girl and her family, the suit stated.
The child and her mother are both plaintiffs to the lawsuit.
“There is no reason to believe that these individuals were terrorists or committed any crime, yet we are making them go through invasive and humiliating procedures that are normally reserved for individuals who are suspected of committing a crime,” Brodsky said.
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