Calif. Woman Reaches Tentative Deal in TSA Breast-Milk Lawsuit

By TERRY TANG
|  Thursday, Apr 24, 2014  |  Updated 7:04 PM PDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Calif. Woman Reaches Tentative Deal in TSA Breast-Milk Lawsuit

AP Photo/Stacey Amato

This 2010 photo provided by Stacey Armato of Hermosa Beach, Calif. shows her with her son, Lorenzo. Armato, who was held at a Phoenix airport in 2010 after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed, said Wednesday, April 23, 2014 that TSA officials have tentatively offered her $75,000, along with promises to retrain agents and clarify its guidelines on sceening breast milk.

A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed said Wednesday she has reached a tentative settlement with the Transportation Security Administration.

Stacey Armato, who filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, said TSA officials have tentatively offered her $75,000, along with promises to retrain agents and clarify its guidelines on screening breast milk.

The reassurances about revised training and rules were more important than the monetary compensation, she said.

"We had been waiting for them to really kind of confirm that they would be retraining everybody and making these policy updates," Armato said. "When we finally got confirmation of that, that was really reassuring."

TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein declined to comment on a "pending matter." He confirmed that current TSA regulations classify breast milk as liquid medication. As a result, parents are permitted to bring an amount larger than the 3 ounces normally allotted for liquids.

According to the agency's website, officers now use a bottled liquid scanner system in most airports to screen medically necessary liquids for explosives or other threats. The system uses lasers, infrared or electromagnetic resonance, rather than X-rays.

That was not an option at the time for Armato, who said she was accustomed to having a visual inspection for breast milk when traveling.

Armato, of Hermosa Beach, said she asked for an alternate screening of her breast milk at a security checkpoint at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Feb. 1, 2010. She cited concerns about exposing the milk to radiation.

According to a 2013 complaint from Armato, agents denied her request and then detained her in a glass enclosure for 40 minutes. Armato, who was traveling alone, alleged their action was partly retaliation for a complaint she filed over a similar incident a week earlier.

She also said officers would not let her retrieve a printout she had of the TSA rules regarding breast milk.

"It was so surreal. To have so many people of authority there acting in concert, kind of watching me stand there and cry," Armato said. "It was just completely mind-boggling. You just feel completely helpless."

In her complaint, Armato said the Phoenix police were called and an officer told her to do whatever was asked to avoid arrest. After an alleged "intrusive physical body inspection" and a secondary screening of the milk, Armato said she was released but missed her flight.

Rob Mosier, Armato's attorney, said they plan to make sure the agency follows through with updates to its website.

"As far as internal procedures, I have to take them at their word that they will do that," Mosier said.
Armato said any money she receives will go toward attorney fees and a Los Angeles nonprofit that promotes breastfeeding. The mother of two said the past four years have been "absolutely worth it" if it means other breastfeeding moms won't be intimidated to travel with breast milk.

"My kids are 4 1/2 and 3," Armato said. "Hopefully one day we'll have another one, and I'll be breastfeeding, and these chang

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Running Dry
Coverage of the California drought. Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out