Lawsuit: TSA Fined Disabled Veteran for Being *Unable* to Comply with Airport Screening

Rohan Ramsingh is a disabled veteran of the United States Army. His service to his country left him with multiple disabilities, including minimal use of one of his shoulders and severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sufficient that the government classifies him as having “permanent and total disability.” To give you an idea of the extent of the surgeries, medication, and other treatment he has required, his medical record with the Veterans Health Administration is nearly 900 pages.

A few months before the pandemic descended upon the world, Ramsingh went to the airport, presented himself at the security checkpoint, and candidly told TSA screeners about his disabilities at the start of screening. His shoulder injury precludes going through a body scanner (which requires a traveler to hold their arms above their head for several seconds) and his PTSD is triggered by having certain areas of his body touched by strangers. Upon hearing this, instead of working to find a solution, or at worst telling Ramsingh that they wouldn’t be able to clear him to enter, supervisors apparently interpreted Ramsingh’s medical limitations as disrespect of their authority and started to threaten him with detention, fines, and police intervention. Security video shows that the whole time, Ramsingh remained calm, not once yelling or create a scene, and after several minutes of being barked at, he asked TSA to allow him to leave the airport. Instead, TSA held him and police were called. The incident ended when the responding officer told Ramsingh that he wouldn’t be participating in detaining him and that he was free to go.

If only the story also ended there. Days later, Ramsingh received a letter proposing that he pay TSA a civil penalty of $2,050 for “interference” with the TSA screening process.

Surely this must be posturing by some supervisor with a hurt ego that will be abandoned once the adults in charge take a look, right? Wrong. Ramsingh retained competent counsel — yours truly — who retrieved the security video, the incident reports, and the medical records, and presented them to actual attorneys for TSA assigned to the case, David Hall and Bill Hernandez. Instead of dismissing, they argued that being disabled is no defense for failure to complete the screening process, and TSA court (yes, there is such a thing), of course, agreed:

“TSA did not dispute Respondent’s claims to STOSs Pagan and McClelland that he suffers from a condition preventing him from lifting both arms and PTSD, and it does not dispute Respondent’s VA medical documentation, in Exhibit A. … However, as discussed in Ruskai, supra, an individual’s bona fide medical condition does not invalidate the requirement to complete screening.

Order Granting TSA’s Motion for Decision, Mar. 4th, 2021, by Hon. Michael J. Devine, U.S. Coast Guard Administrative Law Judge

An appeal to the head of the agency was denied, and so on Friday we asked the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to explain to TSA that no, it cannot fine people for not completing screening when they are unable to do so. Case No. 21-1170 was assigned with briefing to begin next month.

One would think that a disabled veteran would be the last person the TSA would give grief to. In screening 2 million travelers daily, TSA could be expected to learn how to interact with people with disabilities generally. After all, according to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans has some kind of disability. This behavior is a disgrace, and I look forward to fighting this battle in an actual Article III court.

Ramsingh v. TSA – Petition for Review w/ Exhibit (.pdf)

9 thoughts on “Lawsuit: TSA Fined Disabled Veteran for Being *Unable* to Comply with Airport Screening

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  1. TSA, Totally Screwed up Aholes 🤦🏼‍♂️

    They have become an extension to the disgusting Authoritarian Pigs.

  2. Jon, sometimes you get me angry. Give me a minute to explain. Some, generally most, of the articles you write about the TSA just makes my blood boil. I’m physically disabled myself and I’d be pretty darn upset if I were treated in such a way. It would be bad enough if it happened to someone like me who has to fly. Thing is, this is a veteran who SERVED our country and apparently paid a huge price for the pleasure. As bad as it is for any citizen, to treat a veteran that way, it’s a disgrace.


    Could you sue them and make them run out of money? It works for companies. 😉

  3. Maybe the hiring pool is to blame or too complicated ?
    ” Must be 18 years old or older. Must possess a high school diploma or GED. Must be able to pass a drug screening and medical evaluation. Pass a background investigation (credit check and a criminal check).
    TSA Hiring Process, Salaries and Jobs Explained – TSA Test … › tsa-hiring-process “

  4. Just now Jon, I witnessed a very elderly man, unable to stand without assistance, being forced by TSA to stand, with no one able to assist. Thankfully the man fell back and an airport transport man caught him. Happens a lot.

  5. Interesting spin.

    As a disabled veteran (over 30 years of service) and one who is critical of TSA, I suggest that TSAs point is well taken – if it doesn’t work, rewrite the law to accommodate disabled flyers. The easiest ways to get a weapon onboard an airplane include baby carriers, wheel chairs, and other devices that are deemed ‘necessary’ and that are also private or intimate.

    I find it ironic that many of the same people who argue for strict airport/national security give up that argument when presented with a sympathetic figure. If you can’t raise your arms, you can’t stand up, and no one can tough you – you don’t get to fly. Too easy.

    1. How are we supposed to get to doctors appointments etc. by the way the technology is out there to make the X-ray work with disabled it just needs to be created. Pat downs are not touching your sides it’s touching your private parts. Those who do pat downs are actually sexually assaulting disabled people.

  6. TSA is just security theater, anyway. We don’t need them. Ditch that undereducated, overpaid bunch of lazy security guards with an over-inflated sense of self importance. Replace them with a system that actually works and be done with it.

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