Appeals court rules TSA screeners immune from abuse claims

Appeals court rules TSA screeners immune from abuse claims
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A federal court ruled Wednesday that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees who conduct screenings are immune from abuse liability claims.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit found that TSA screeners are not considered to be “investigative or law enforcement officers” and therefore have immunity.

Nadine Pellegrino and her husband, Harry Waldman, said they were victims of false arrest, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment after an incident at Philadelphia International Airport in 2006.

“Pellegrino’s claims are therefore barred by the Government’s sovereign immunity, and we will affirm the District Court’s judgment dismissing this action,” Judge Cheryl Ann Krause wrote in the opinion.

Court documents said “Pellegrino was randomly selected for additional screening” but requested a private inspection.

The TSA officers involved in the incident claimed Pellegrino struck them with her suitcases as she moved the luggage following the inspection. 

Pellegrino was then arrested after police arrived on the scene. But a judge in 2008 found her not guilty of the criminal charges after TSA did not provide video of the episode.

In the dissenting opinion, Judge Thomas Ambro said Pellegrino's claims should head to trial.