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Man Sues TSA for Mishandling of Mother’s Cremated Remains


An October 2012 incident involving the damage of a mother’s cremated remains while en route to their final resting place has led to allegations of negligence and violation of personal rights.

A Cleveland man has filed a lawsuit against the TSA and others involved with allegedly mishandling his mother’s urn during an inspection of his checked bag. The incident, which occurred in October 2012 while Shannon Thomas was traveling from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) to San Juan, Puerto Rico, resulted in the urn opening inside his suitcase and its contents spilling out.

According to a report from Cleveland’s FOX 8 News, Thomas’ lawyer has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Cleveland claiming the incident violated his client’s rights. The lawsuit names multiple defendants, including “The United States of America, the TSA, Attorney General of the United States, Department of Justice, 10 agents or employees with the TSA, and 10 other unnamed person who had contact with [Thomas’] luggage.”

The lawsuit is seeking $750,000 in damages and argues that the actions of the defendants “constitute intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress.”

Thomas claims he packed the urn carefully per the TSA’s guidelines and wrapped it in additional clothing for protection. When he arrived in Puerto Rico, though, he opened his suitcase to find the top had come off the urn and his mother’s ashes were scattered throughout the suitcase. A TSA inspection tag was inside the suitcase.

TSA officials told FlyerTalk they do not comment on pending litigation, but did reiterate that TSA rules state that agents must never open urns with remains inside them. A TSA blog post from June 2012 reiterates this position, listing TSA’s guidelines for traveling with crematory remains. The policy does state that “all urns are subject to screening and must pass through the x-ray machine,” but “under no circumstances will an officer open the container.”

In June 2012, however, several travelers witnessed a TSA agent at Orlando International Airport (MCO) violate that rule, when she opened an urn at a security checkpoint, sifted through the contents and accidentally spilled at least one-third of the ashes.

[Photo: iStock]

Comments are Closed.
Athena53 October 8, 2014

Let's not blame the customer. He followed their rules, and they violated theirs.

Ceridrial October 8, 2014

At what point is this worth " seeking $750,000 in damages " I think if shown to be negligent, they should pay nominal damages and then some to government or charity

pharmalady October 7, 2014

Why didn't he ship the cremains properly wrapped via Fedex or UPS? Certainly would have been easier for the journey.