TSA workers acting dumb is nothing new, but a man flying out of New York performed a “stupid passenger trick” of his own — and ended up paying the price. The man, Frank Hannibal, quipped in earshot of a screener that a jar of gourmet peanut butter in his luggage contained an explosive. He was summarily arrested.
Now Hannibal is seeking revenge. On Thursday, the former New Yorker now living in Arizona filed a lawsuit against the TSA and Port Authority police in Brooklyn Federal Court. According to the Daily News, he is seeking $5 million in damages.
The circumstances leading up to his arrest, however, may work against him. First there is the matter of size. The 16-ounce jar of Crazy Richard’s peanut butter in Hannibal’s possession was in excess of the 3.4-ounce upward limit on “gels” specified by the TSA . This detail justifies the decision by TSO Edwin Sanchez, who is named in the suit, to inspect the contents.
Second is the matter of Hannibal’s “joke.” The court papers indicate that once he had been pulled out of line, he sarcastically told his wife and twin 6-year-old daughters, “They’re looking to confiscate my explosives.”
Ultimately, the Queens district attorney elected not to prosecute Hannibal, and he was released. But now he wants payback for his 25 hours in incarceration.
There is much that is wrong with the TSA, its “rules,” and their application. Its hirelings are not above confiscating a toy hammer from a mentally challenged man but not beneath allowing a passenger to transport box cutters — the weapon of choice of the 9/11 hijackers — through security.
Yet, a passenger who cracks wise about explosives in an airport security queue is asking for trouble. Frank Hannibal found it. He should abandon his lawsuit and profit from a lesson learned.
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