TSA sued for $5 million after arresting man over peanut butter jar
Frank Hannibal, 50, is seeking millions of dollars according to a recently filed lawsuit that has been uncovered by the New York Daily Mail. In the complaint, Hannibal recalls a failed attempt to pass through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint with a jar of gourmet peanut butter. By the time the incident was over, he says he spent over 24 hours in a jail cell.
“It sounds laughable now but at the time to be led out of there like a terrorist was unbelievable,” Hannibal tells the Daily News. “My whole life was up in the air. It was a nightmare. My children were overwhelmed. It was crazy.”
Hannibal’s troubles began when a TSA agent questioned him about his jar of “Crazy Richard’s Natural Peanut Butter,” a spread sold at supermarkets across the country and marketed by Ohio’s Krema Products Company. Speaking to the paper, Hannibal says the TSA agent appeared confused by the natural separation of oil inside the jar of peanut butter, which retails typically at around $7 a pop.
“The liquid oil that separated from the peanut butter had them baffled,” he says.
But instead of ditching the food or explaining the science behind preservation, Hannibal admits to cracking a joke when an agent analyzed the jar.
“They’re looking to confiscate my explosives,” Hannibal sarcastically told his wife and twin 6-year-old daughters, according to court papers obtained by the Daily News. But although the comment wasn’t met for anyone other than his family, Hannibal says it garnered the attention of a nearby agent.
Moments later, Hannibal was cuffed and on his way to a holding cell. There he spent 25 hours in lockup where he was offered, you guessed it—a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“The jelly looked like pus, the peanut butter like God knows what and the bread was hard as a rock," Hannibal tells the paper.
Hopefully soon, however, Hannibal’s days of jailcell sandwiches are behind him. He is suing the TSA worker who didn’t get his joke and the Port Authority officer who arrested him for $5 million.
“It’s a sorry state of affairs in this country when sarcasm is considered a felony,” his attorney, Alan D. Levine of Queens, tells the paper.
Federal law mandates that the TSA impose a 3.2 ounce limit on “gels” during air travel.