Disabled Cancer Patient Sues Memphis International Airport, TSA After Bloody Checkpoint Scuffle

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Bloodied and bruised, 19-year-old cancer patient Hannah Cohen was led from Memphis International Airport in handcuffs last year.

The teen was heading home to Chattanooga on June 30, 2015, after treatment for a brain tumor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, according to KTLA sister station WREG in Memphis.

It’s a trip her family has made for 17 years.

This time, an unarmed Hannah Cohen set off the metal detector at a security checkpoint.

“They wanted to do further scanning. She was reluctant — she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said her mother Shirley Cohen.

Shirley Cohen said she tried to tell Transportation Security Administration agents her daughter is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed, and easily confused. Radiation and the removal of the brain tumor have left her with disabilities.

But she was kept at a distance from her daughter by police, Cohen said.

“She’s trying to get away from them, but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere,” she said.

Hannah Cohen was arrested and booked, and on the night she should have been celebrating the end of her treatment, she was locked up.

Authorities later threw out the charges, but the family this week filed a federal lawsuit against the Memphis airport, airport police, and the TSA.

The lawsuit alleges the agencies discriminated against Hannah Cohen, a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

None of those agencies would comment specifically on the case, citing the suit.

“Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation,” TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said in a statement.

Shirley Cohen said after all the help the family received in Memphis, she can’t believe it ended in this way.

“She’s 19, but she’ll always be my baby. We’ve been through so much,” she said.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, seeks $100,000 in damages and costs.

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