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In a small victory for liberty today, TSA paid damages and apologized for their mistreatment of Stacey Armato, who they traumatized and held captive for nearly an hour in 2010 over x-raying of breast milk that she was attempting to carry through checkpoint in Phoenix airport. In this incident TSA screeners violated agency policies by refusing to allow the breast milk to pass and willfully delayed Ms. Armato, who also happens to be an attorney, causing her to miss her flight.
Ms. Armato then sued the agency and now has successfully prosecuted the case. In the settlement she was paid an undisclosed sum (UPDATE; TSA will Pay $75,000 restitution), which she in turn donated to BreastfeedLA, and received an official apology.
There was no word from the agency on whether the screeners responsible were fired or reprimanded, nor comment from Ms. Armato whether she now plans to pursue further civil litigation against the airport and screeners individually.
Hopefully, this decision signals a turn in the tide against TSA abuse of travelers and lead to reform or replacement of the agency as a whole.
The United States Transportation Security Administration settled the highly publicized lawsuit filed by a mother who was allegedly harassed by TSA officers when she requested her breast milk not be x-rayed, authorities announced Tuesday.
The TSA again apologized to Stacey Armato in the resolving lawsuit for the incident that took place at the Phoenix Airport on Jan. 25, 2010 and also agreed to clarify its internal procedures for screening breast milk.
“We brought this lawsuit for one reason — to bring clarity and policy change for breastfeeding mothers traveling with breast milk,” Armato said. “Hopefully what I experienced at the Phoenix Airport in 2010 will never happen to another mother traveling with her breast milk.”
TSA says it will update its public website to better guide breastfeeding mothers traveling with breast milk and train its screening officers on the new policies.
During the 2010 incident, Armato, who travels weekly from Los Angeles to Phoenix for work, was held by the TSA for over 40 minutes while they “researched” their own policy and urged her to simply dump her breast milk if she did not want it to be x-rayed.
She later lodged a complaint through the TSA website, and in response was told to print out a copy of the TSA breast milk guidelines and hand it directly to the screening officers the next time she flew.
The following week, Armato came into contact with the same officers, who refused to look at the guidelines. They then reportedly harassed her for an hour, placed her in a glass enclosure, called the Phoenix police, patted her down and finally refused to screen the milk claiming the bottles were “too full.” She subsequently missed her flight.
“I am so incredibly proud of Stacey Armato” her lawyer, Robert Mosier said. “To stand up like she did and take on the TSA so breastfeeding mothers would have a voice and be free from harassment took real guts and fortitude. Stacey stood up for what she believed, made the government listen and change its policies — it is a true David vs. Goliath story. It has been a difficult journey for her for well over two years.”
A donation from the settlement proceeds will be made to BreastfeedLA, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of infants and families through education, outreach, and advocacy to promote and support breastfeeding.