It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate case for my first lawsuit as an attorney than that of Rhonda Mengert. Mrs. Mengert hugged her grandchildren goodbye after a Mother’s Day visit last month in Tulsa, Okla., and given that she is a frequent flyer for work and has PreCheck status, expected an uneventful security search.
Instead, two screeners at Tulsa International Airport decided to humiliate her. While patting down Mengert, a screener felt a pantyliner through her clothing. The standard procedure in this instance is to complete the pat-down, including the test for explosive residue on the screener’s gloves, and send the passenger on her way. For reasons still unknown to any of us, the screener instead called for a colleague and directed Mengert to enter a “private screening area” with them. (As a side note, I have always told my friends and readers: never go into a private screening area with the TSA. Miss your flight. Let them threaten you. Just don’t do it.)
Once in the private room, the screeners told Mengert that they needed to “clear the area” (“the area” being her underwear). After being asked how they would like to do that, the screeners directed Mengert to take down her pants and underwear down to her knees to show them the pad. Mengert was made to feel that she had no choice and complied. Having been forced to expose herself, Mengert had to ask four times before she was finally allowed to leave.
The TSA publicly states that “TSA does not include strip searches in its protocols.” But given that they were accused of doing basically the same thing to another woman last year, and seem to have a thing for strip searching older women, it seems the screeners and lower management have not gotten the message.
Mrs. Mengert retained me as counsel and last night I filed suit on her behalf against the TSA and the two screeners who inexplicably decided to break TSA policy and violate a woman, for being a woman, on Mother’s Day. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, seeks injunctive and monetary relief. We hope this will be message received.
Mengert v. TSA – Complaint (.pdf)
If you know anyone who has been violated in a similar way, please contact me: corbettrights.com.
You have no idea how much I want you to win this case. Simply no idea.
Thank you, Wendy! Always appreciate your support. 🙂
I’m with Wendy. The bad thing is, I doubt this will stop the TSA from doing this sort of thing.
You will win this case. These assholes need to be stopped. The TSA is utterly useless.
Good first case. Stick it to ’em.
Thank you to my amazing attorney for battling this with me.
Similar thing happened to me. Hope you win for all of us.
The terrorists won folks. Thanks Dubya!
Sadly, you have a point. The terrorists attacked us because of our freedom, especially religious freedom, but also the freedom to go where we please when we please. Now the Govt has trampled on those freedoms while claiming to protect our freedom. Far to few see that point. They didn’t take away our freedoms and rights, we gave them up because the Govt said they needed to to protect the very thing they claim to fight for.
There are a few that get it. Sadly, when I mention that to some people, they give me strange looks. Then we have folks like Jon who are trying to stand up and tell the Govt to knock it off. It’s hard to get Judges to see that point, even tho they think they are so smart.
They do not have a “thing.” More often than not the security officer is trying to get the passenger NOT to expose themselves but they are freaking out and no longer listening. The flying public knows where they are going when they head to the airport but they often act like they were dragged from their homes and made to go through the process without warning. Nobody ever talks about the thousands of kindnesses these officers extend in the face of the abuse they get from both management and the ill informed public. If those officers didn’t follow procedure they should be fired. If they did follow the rules then this never happened.
Thank you for telling us nothing of value. The kindness of many is not relevant to the fact that these 2 screeners broke TSA policy and humiliated my client.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. I suspect such searches ARE TSA policy, but done on such a “random and unpredictable” basis at airports around the country that TSA can plausibly deny that any such policy exists.
TSA could easily implement such a policy and keep it secret. A select “team” could, for example, do this to every 100th suitable passenger at airport “A” for a week or so, then move to airport “B” for another week or so, then repeat the process at airport “C” for another couple of weeks, and so on. This way there will be plenty of similar passengers at each airport who would testify that nothing happened to them, even though they were no different than the selected “victim”; and no clearly identifiable pattern of abuse that could be easily identified.
Such a policy, of course, would be VERY “Sensitive Security Information”, and as such could never be admitted to. TSA would justify this and other, similar policies of public intimidation and humiliation as a means of “detering” “terrorists” by letting them know that no one is safe and even the most intimate parts of the body are subject to search and inspection. The ensuing negative publicity is just part of the plan, and a very desirable part at that, from the point of view of those responsible.
Wow! What a way to blame the victim.
“I didn’t want to see her private parts, Your Honor! She whipped off her pants and shoved them at me.”
Right. Sure. She was asking for it.
Congratulations, Jon, on passing the bar! Good luck on this case — god knows you’ll need it.
As you know, I, too, have been fighting this battle for 10 years. But I’ve given up (just as I gave up flying in 2010, when the Reign of Molestation was implemented). Americans have proven — they prove every day — that they’re willing to be abused to get on a plane. They’re even willing to let their children be abused.
I wish I had hope. But that horse left the barn long ago.
It happened to me. I hope you win – I have the letter I wrote to TSA and their weak response. Disgusting.
Jon, you might be interested to know that TWA884, notoriously anal OCPD moderator at FlyerTalk with whom you are acquainted, “strongly suspects” that you, and the posters known as Saizai and Boggie Dog, “are working in concert.” “Working in concert” to do what, I don’t know – make his life more difficult or perhaps, as you said, to deliberately hurt his “fee fees.” Whatever it is, he is certain you are in cahoots.