A disabled teen was trying to fly home following her final brain cancer treatment - but was instead left bloodied and bruised by airport security staff, according to a lawsuit in the US.

Hannah Cohen, 19, was heading back to Chattanooga on June 30, 2015, after receiving a final round of radiation at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Her mother, Shirley Cohen, said the pair had made the trip home from Memphis International Airport for 17 years and knew the security routine well.

But this time, Hannah set off the metal detector at the security checkpoint.

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Transport Security Administration (TSA) agents told Hannah they needed to take her to a "sterile area" to search her.

According to the lawsuit, the then-18-year-old became disoriented and scared.

"They wanted to do further scanning. She was reluctant - she didn't understand what they were about to do," mum Shirley said.

Shirley said she tried to explain to the agents that her daughter was partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralysed and easily confused as a result of 17 years of brain cancer surgeries and treatments.

But agents pushed her aside, she said.

"She's trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere," Shirley told WREG-TV.

The lawsuit alleges security personnel assaulted Hannah at the checkpoint, "causing her physical and emotional injury, as well as emotional injury" to her mother.

Hannah was arrested, taken to hospital and spent 24 hours in Shelby County jail.

When she was released, she cried in her mother's arms, saying "I'm sorry, Mama."

Two days later, Hannah appeared before a local judge.

Hannah Cohen is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralysed and easily confused. Photo / Shirley Cohen
Hannah Cohen is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralysed and easily confused. Photo / Shirley Cohen

Shirley said the judge asked her daughter to explain herself. When Hannah looked up, revealing her cuts and bruises, "the judge's eyes got big and round", Shirley told

The charges were dropped and the court refunded the US$250 ($348) in costs the family had paid.

The family filed a federal lawsuit against the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority and the TSA for damages that include pain, medical expenses, personal and emotional injury, and embarrassment.

The lawsuit alleges that the TSA and airport police discriminated against Hannah because of her disability and failed to provide reasonable accommodation for screening her. The suit asks for a "reasonable sum not exceeding $100,000 and costs".

TSA spokesman Mark Howell and Jerry Brandon, chief of public safety of the Memphis International Airport Police Department, said they could not comment on pending litigation.

"Anybody can file anything, and we don't comment on active litigation," Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority president and CEO Scott Brockman told the Commercial Appeal newspaper.

"Clearly there are additional facts in this matter, and we won't comment until we address the litigation."

- new.com.au, AP, News Corp Australia Network