Durham family sues TSA over airport screenings

By Tom Breen/AP

RALEIGH, N.C. — New airport security procedures that have prompted complaints around the country amount to a violation of constitutional rights, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by a Durham lawyer.

Jonathan Blitz filed a complaint in Raleigh federal court against the Transportation Security Administration on behalf of himself and his family. The lawsuit said the new full-body scanners at airports violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and that the pat-downs offered in lieu of the machine are “grope searches” that inflict humiliation on travelers.

“Either TSA personnel have been instructed to intimidate passengers who opt out of the scanner and have been instructed to make the grope search unpleasant to deter passengers from refusing the scanner,” the complaint reads, “or defendants’ agents have not been properly trained and supervised in their activities related to scanners and passengers’ rights.”

The complaint was prompted by two trips through Raleigh-Durham International Airport by Marla Tuchinsky. Blitz and Tuchinsky are the parents of an infant son identified in the lawsuit as “E.B.”

According to the complaint, Tuchinsky refused to pass through the full-body scanners twice at the airport. The scanners show a person’s physical contours on a computer in a private room removed from security checkpoints, which the lawsuit calls a “virtual strip search.” The lawsuit also contends the radiation from the scanners can cause damage to DNA, which the TSA disputes, saying travelers are exposed to more radiation in the normal course of an airline flight.

On both occasions, Tuchinsky was patted down by TSA employees, a process the lawsuit said violated her rights……..

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