PHOENIX -- Four years after TSA officers threatened to arrest her if she did not put breast milk for her baby through an X-ray machine at Sky Harbor, a Southern California mom is on the receiving end of a $75,000 settlement.
"To me it was just complete and utter ignorance and retaliatory behavior," Stacey Armato, 34-year-old mother of two, said. "It was terrible!"
Armato was carrying breast milk for her baby through a TSA security checkpoint at Sky Harbor International Airport on Feb. 1, 2010. She says TSA agents tried to force her to put her breast milk through an X-ray machine.
She refused, concerned that the radiation from the X-ray machine would harm the breast milk.
"The last thing I want to do with that milk is send it through radiation," Armato said. "I want the purest milk for my child. Not one that’s undergone radiation."
TSA agents are supposed to offer a different screening option for breast-feeding moms, but apparently these agents did not care about Armato's concerns. She claims they threatened to arrest her if she did not follow their orders to discard her breast milk.
According to the TSA website, breast milk, formula and juice should be treated the same way liquid medication is handled.
"Although formula, breast milk, and juice is inspected at the checkpoint, you, your infant or toddler will not be asked to test or taste the breast milk, formula, or juice," the website reads. "Our Security Officers may test liquid exemptions (exempt items more than 3 ounces) items for explosives. Officers may also ask you to open the container during the screening process."
That apparently is not what happened on that February day.
While Armato did nothing wrong, she said she felt like she was being treated like a criminal, even breaking down in tears and she recalled her two-hour ordeal.
"It was humiliating," she said. "You stand in this glass container for 30 minutes as hundreds of passengers are walking past you and staring at you obviously thinking that you did something wrong."
Armato filed suit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix and now, four years after the incident that she described as "horrifying," that suit has ended with a settlement of $75,000.
"This was never about the money," Armato said. She said she plans to donate part of the money to a Los Angeles nonprofit that promotes breastfeeding.