A disabled teenage cancer patient was injured by TSA agents in a violent arrest at Memphis International Airport, a new lawsuit alleges.
Hannah Cohen, then 18, partially blind, deaf and paralyzed by a brain tumor, was allegedly thrown to the ground, hitting her head, then arrested by the TSA and airport police after setting off the metal detector in the airport last year, the lawsuit states.
Hannah and her mother, Shirley, were returning home to Chattanooga after treatment for the tumor at St. Jude's Children's Hospital on June 30, 2015, when Hannah set off the metal detector.
"They wanted to do further scanning, she was reluctant, she didn't understand what they were about to do," said Shirley Cohen, who tried to explain to TSA agents about her daughter but was kept away. She said her daughter started to panic.
"She's trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere," said ShirleyCohen, who was herself hobbled by a broken foot at the time.
Hannah Cohen was arrested and jailed. The charges were later thrown out, but the family has filed the lawsuit against the Memphis Airport, airport police and the Transportation Security Administration.
The lawsuit alleges the TSA failed to give Hannah adequate screening accommodations and discriminated against her because she's disabled. It seeks damages from the TSA and the Memphis-Shelby County airport authority for medical expenses and for physical and emotional injury. It calls for a "reasonable sum not exceeding $100,000 and costs" and an undisclosed punitive amount.
"They think they can do anything they want," Shirley Cohen said. "Well, in this country we have the Americans with Disabilities Act. And if they will do this to a disabled girl, does that mean they'll do it to an 80-year-old grandmother? It's time for justice."