Judge drops airport case

Woman accused of hitting TSA agent over a cooler won’t face charges.

April 21, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

GLENDALE — A judge on Tuesday agreed to toss out a misdemeanor battery charge against a 58-year-old Camarillo woman who refused to relinquish a cooler containing applesauce and other snacks for her ailing mother last year at Bob Hope Airport.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Fred Rotenberg said he would dismiss the case against Nadine Kay Hays only if the grandmother of six stays out of trouble for the next six months. Prosecutors had no objections during the hearing at a Glendale courthouse.

Hays, who was traveling to Nashville, Tenn., with her 93-year-old mother, was charged with misdemeanor battery after the tussle with Transportation Security Administration agents last April. The trial this week was moved from Burbank to Pasadena and then to Glendale over scheduling difficulties and challenges by Hays’ attorney, Mary Frances Prevost.


“It’s obviously a major burden off of my shoulders. I think I can get my life back together again,” Hays said outside the courtroom. “As far as being good for six months, I think I can handle that no problem.”

The case generated national attention, drawing the ire of talk-radio hosts who railed against the TSA agents and challenged how confiscating a disabled woman’s applesauce would improve national security.

“I think it shows the corruption in the government, the inability of many judges to challenge prosecutors and a huge waste of taxpayer money,” Prevost said.

“Finally a judge with some common sense put his hands on the case and made an intelligent suggestion.”

Prosecutors on Monday indicated that they had lined up several witnesses to take the stand in what was expected to be a five-day trial.

Olga Baker, representing the Burbank city attorney’s office, objected to “derogatory remarks” made to the media and assertions from court filings.

Hays, who along with her mother and a caregiver were scheduled to fly to Nashville for her nephew’s wedding, was stopped about 12:55 p.m. at a security checkpoint.

A TSA 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.

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