A TSA agent allegedly goofing off on the job accidentally pepper-sprayed his co-workers at New York's JFK airport.
In total, six TSA agents had to be taken to a hospital for treatment. No passengers were hurt.
TSA agent Chris Yves Dabel was "playing around" with a pepper-spray container -- which he apparently thought was a laser pointer -- when it fired off liquid at five fellow TSA agents, reports the New York Post.
Dabel reportedly found the pepper spray at a security checkpoint, and was playing with the device in an attempt to determine if it was real, reports the Post. Dabel's five colleagues can now testify that the device was definitely real and definitely not a laser pointer.
While no passengers were harmed, the incident led to the shutdown of security checkpoints for 15 minutes.
For attacking his own colleagues with pepper spray, Dabel may be subject to a lot more than embarrassment. He could be sued for negligence, as could the airport itself.
Generally, someone (let alone a trained TSA agent) should not play with a weapon to determine if the weapon is real. This is especially true if there are people around. This is like shooting what looks to be a gun at another person to determine if it is a real gun.
An argument may be made that Dabel owed a duty to those around him to not spray them with pepper spray. And by playing with the device in a careless manner, Dabel violated this duty.
The juicier target in a personal injury lawsuit would be TSA or even JFK airport itself. For example, shouldn't TSA agents be properly trained on what to do when they find a potential weapon? However, because the airport and the TSA are government entities, those injured may have to follow special rules for bringing injury claims.
- TSA Agent Confuses Pepper Spray With Laser Pointer, With Comic Results (FindLaw's Gothamist)
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