TSA Sued For Allegedly Slamming A Teenage Cancer Patient To The Ground

Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP Images.
A new lawsuit against the TSA is accusing airport workers of physically assaulting and injuring a teenage cancer patient, The Guardian reported on Saturday.

The lawsuit, which also names Memphis Airport officials, alleges violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress over a 2015 incident. Hannah Cohen, then 18, was returning home to Chattanooga, TN, from St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. The teenager had been treated for a brain tumor which left her partially blind and deaf, easily confused, and partially paralyzed. Her mother said that the two had made the trip hundreds of times and had the routine down.

But this time, when Cohen passed through the body scanner, an alarm went off, possibly due to sequins on her shirt. The lawsuit alleges that Cohen’s mother, Shirley, told agents that her daughter was a cancer patient who was easily disoriented and asked to be able to help her, but was refused. Instead, the lawsuit states, agents called for backup. When the guards grabbed Cohen, she pulled away, startled, and they slammed her to the floor, smashing her face against the concrete and leaving her bloody.

Cohen was arrested and jailed, though the charges were later dropped.

Shirley Cohen told The Guardian that when the pair appeared before a Memphis judge, he seemed shocked to see the cuts around her daughter’s blind eye. “The judge’s eyes got big and round,” Shirley said.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Tennessee on Tuesday, asks for “reasonable” damages of up to $100,000 for the incident, which caused Cohen and her mother “medical expenses, personal injury, emotional injury, pain and suffering, and embarrassment.” Shirley Cohen told The Chattanooga Times Free Press that the stress of the incident meant her daughter was unable to continue with college plans and has since dropped out.
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