Breast Milk Mom Prepares to Sue the TSA Over Detention

Stacey Armato, the mother who was detained by TSA agents in Phoenix last February when she asked for “alternate” screening for her pumped breast milk, has filed a TSA Tort Claim Package, the last step before she can file a lawsuit against the government employees who she claims detained her in retaliation for filing a complaint against them. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, in order to sue the United States government or its employees for certain claims one must exhaust all remedies available to you by the relevant government agency. Armato, who is due to give birth to her second child on December 25th, plans to file a lawsuit against the TSA and the individual agents as soon as it is legally possible.

According to Armato’s complaint filed with the TSA concerning what happened when she presented her pumped breast milk for screening at the Phoenix airport on February 1st:

All the same TSA parties were present from the week before surrounded [stet] me . I was demanding an explanation and wanted to speak with the manager but was refused. I was told to be quiet and do as I was told or I wasn’t going anywhere. I felt like a caged animal, stared at by multiple TSA agents and other travelers. After 15 or 20 minutes, my anger turned to tears. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt harassed, degraded, violated, falsely imprisoned, and retaliated against.

Finally, three Phoenix police department officers came. One … came in to tell me that I needed to calm down or TSA could have me arrested. He instructed me to go through alternate gates for security on my following trips because they seemed to have it out for me. He said these TSA agents saw me coming, remembered me from the week before, and wanted me to play along with their ‘horse and pony’ show or they would have me arrested.

Armato alleges as well:

The incident on February 1, 2010, was an obvious retaliation against me for lodging a complaint with the TSA the previous week. It is absolutely unforgiveable that these TSA agents would hold me like a caged animal in an apparent act to “teach me a lesson.” The TSA agents knowingly, and willfully, disregarded their own rules and regulations. I was placed in a glass enclosure, in full view of all the other passengers. I was continuously yelled at, talked down to, and threatened with arrest if I did not adhere to the TSA agents’ demands. The TSA agents, as well as the TSA itself as employers of these individuals, is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, battery, assault, trespass to chattel, false imprisonment, and civil harassment, among other causes of action

While news agencies have reported receiving a statement from the TSA claiming that Armato accepted its apology concerning the incident, Armato maintains she has received no apology.

Amato’s story and the TSA video of her detention has gotten a great deal of press. Has the TSA’s treatment of Armato changed your plans for travel? How do you think you might behave if you were in Armato’s position?

Sustainable Mothering will continue to present the latest on this case, as well as other incidents involving the TSA that impact parents. Stay tuned.

9 comments to Breast Milk Mom Prepares to Sue the TSA Over Detention

  • Tweets that mention Breast Milk Mom Prepares to Sue the TSA Over Detention | Sustainable Mothering — Topsy.com December 5th, 2010 at 7:22 pm · Reply […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MommySphere, Jessa Lewis. Jessa Lewis said: RT @JakeAryehMarcus Breast Milk Mom Prepares to Sue the TSA Over Detention http://bit.ly/hteOAJ […]
  • Sara Dodder Furr December 5th, 2010 at 11:55 pm · Reply Thank you for this helpful update, Jake.
  • Mark December 6th, 2010 at 9:18 am · Reply Don’t put up with this garbage! Boycott Flying COMPLETELY, until sanity returns! Please join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Flying/126801010710392
  • Michelle December 7th, 2010 at 8:51 am · Reply I just went through something very similar at LAX (this happened to be yesterday 12/6/2010). Dumb TSA agents don’t know their own policies. They xray my breast milk and they told me they would have to throw it out becuase the baby wasn’t with me. After speaking with the manager (and several minutes of waiting) they said they had to test the milk. The milk was clearly bagged and stored properly and I disclosed all the information as soon as I got to the security area. I know TSA has a difficult job but they need to train all the agents to know their jobs and STOP THE POWER TRIPPING!!
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      December 7th, 2010 at 9:42 am · Reply @Michelle, what happened? What testing did they do? Did you finally get your milk through?
  • MichelleDecember 8th, 2010 at 5:43 pm · Reply I asked the TSA agent if the xray machine would hurt the milk and she said no (not sure how she knows this since she’s not a doctor or anything as such). To be honest, becuase it was a last minute trip I hadn’t done enough research to know if the xray machine would hurt it …so the milk in the insulated lunch bag went through. Then another TSA agent opened the bag and asked where the baby was. I said the baby is not with me, I’m traveling for work and I pumped the milk while on travel. She said she may have to throw it out (this enfuriated me)! I told her the TSA site said it could be brought in with no issues (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/formula.shtm). After telling me a few more times that they may have to throw it out, she said she would have to check. When she came back she said she would have to test it. She had me open the storage bag while she hovered a little piece of paper (similar to those used to test the milk for alcohol). Once satisfied, she let me go through. I called her a stupid a$$ under my breath and she heard it :) she asked if I said anything and I said no with a big smile. (this gave me a small semblence of revenge although a bit immature…I admit) :PWhat I don’t understand is why not check with the manager first before telling someone that their breast milk would have to be thrown out. It’s like baiting you to lose your cool. Again, I know TSA agents don’t have the best job in the world but make an effort to know the agency policies if you’re going to interact with the public.Aside from this, not sure if there’s conclusive eveidence out there that says xraying the breastmilk will cause it harm. If there were, I wouldn’t have let them scan it.
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      December 14th, 2010 at 4:05 pm · ReplyThis is something that should not have happened to you. :(
      Jake´s last blog ..Stacey Armato Responds To The TSA Post On Her Breast Milk DetentionMy ComLuv Profile
  • The TSA Responds To Breast Milk Mom, Stacey Armato | Sustainable Mothering December 9th, 2010 at 6:23 pm · Reply[…] Breast Milk Mom Prepares to Sue the TSA Over Detention […]
  • Myrna Beard December 23rd, 2010 at 9:47 pm · Reply […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MommySphere, Jessa Lewis. Jessa Lewis said: RT @JakeAryehMarcus Breast Milk Mom Prepares to Sue the TSA Over Detention http://bit.ly/hteOAJ […]