TSA battery case is dismissed

A judge on Monday dismissed the misdemeanor battery case filed against the woman accused of assaulting a federal transportation security agent at Bob Hope Airport last year during a tussle over carry-on applesauce and other snacks for her 93-year-old mother.

The battery charge against Nadine Kay Hays was dismissed after she reported six months of good behavior to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Fred Rotenberg.

"We agreed to delay prosecution for [six months] if she complied with the terms and today was the reward," said Assistant City Atty. Denny Wei.

Hays, who was traveling to Nashville, Tenn., with her 93-year-old mother to a wedding, was charged with misdemeanor battery after a tussle with Transportation Security Administration agents last April.

While the case's dismissal spelled the end of Hays' criminal woes, the civil side of the story gained steam Monday when she and her attorney, Mary Frances Prevost, filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security as part of Hays' quest to get compensation for emotional and financial distress.

"I was ecstatic to hear the judge say 'case dismissed', but there's still a lot to be resolved," Hays said.

She estimated her legal expenses at $20,000 so far, said she but expected that to rise when she hires expert-witness testimony. The tussle with airport security and ensuing legal battle also has affected her physiologically, she added.

"This [incident] has affected my daily lifestyle," Hays said. "Things that used to take an hour to do now take an entire day. I need to resolve this so my brain can be put back together."

A Transportation Security Administration representative declined to comment until the matter was fully resolved.

"Until the remaining litigation is resolved, it is still inappropriate to discuss the matter, according to regulations," said spokeswoman Nico Melendez.

Hays was stopped at a security checkpoint in April last year when a Transportation Security Administration supervisor told officers that Hays made a fist and struck her on the hand as they tugged at an ice chest containing the snacks, according to the arrest report.

Hays has denied hitting the agent, maintaining that she brought down her hand to keep agents from taking away her mother's applesauce, cheese and milk.

In an e-mail sent to federal security officials before the trip, Hays informed the agency that she planned to take the snacks and milk onboard, asking them to "please advise, as I do not want to have complications at the airport."

Officials responded five days after her arrest with a form letter that the agency permits certain liquids needed by people with disabilities and medical conditions. More than 3 ounces is also acceptable as long as passengers declare them at the gate.

"It's really an obstruction of justice," Prevost said. "And they're going to pay for it."

Although the criminal charges have been dismissed, Hays still faces an administrative complaint for allegedly violating security regulations. Penalties could reach $10,000.

Prevost said she was confident Hays would prevail in court.

"They just couldn't contain themselves and they wanted to go after her," she said. "This is a clear case of malicious prosecution by both TSA and Burbank city attorney's office. They should be ashamed of themselves."

Hays is scheduled to appear before an administrative-law judge in December for the civil complaint.

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