Sometimes it pays to cry over spilled milk.
A California mom who was held at an Arizona airport four years ago after an argument with TSA agents who wanted to X-ray her breast milk has won a preliminary settlement of $75,000 from the agency.
Stacey Armato, who filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, said Wednesday that TSA officials have tentatively offered the money along with promises to retrain agents and clarify its guidelines on screening breast milk.
Armato, now 34, told NBC News that at the time, in January of 2010, she was travelling about once a week between Phoenix and L.A. for work.
In fact, she had already had previous problems with the breast milk for her 7-month-old son Lorenzo and had printed out the TSA's own rules for alternate screenings.
But, Armato said, agents at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport insisted on X-raying her breast milk. When she objected and reached for the rules in her luggage, her hand was slapped away and she was made to wait in an all glass holding area.
Courtesy Stacey Armato
Stacey Armato with her son Lorenzo, in 2010.
"I was held in there for probably 30 minutes, to the point where I was crying," she said. "I couldn't believe what was going on."
TSA agents finally made her put the milk into smaller containers then did an alternate test which involves litmus paper and cotton swabs.
"It was an hour at that point — really painful, really stressful," said Armato.
The notice of settlement was filed on Friday, but the TSA technically has 30 days to request a dismissal.
Armato, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., said that she would use some of the money to pay off lawyer fees, but would give much of it to a local non-profit called BreastfeedLA.
A TSA spokesman wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, but noted that many TSA policies and procedures have changed in the last four years.
First published April 23 2014, 2:55 PM