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CLEVELAND- A Cleveland man had carefully planned an emotional trip to take his mother’s cremated remains to a final resting place, but instead he says the journey turned horrific and upsetting.

Attorney Adeladi Williams says his client, Mr. Shannon Thomas, was flying from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to San Juan, Puerto Rico in early October 2012.

It was Mr. Thomas’ mother’s last wish to have her ashes spread in the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea.

But a lawsuit filed in Federal Court in Cleveland Thursday claims a disturbing incident destroyed that wish and violated his rights.

According to court documents, Mr. Thomas had followed all of the guidelines and properly packed his mother’s “heavy and sturdy” urn inside of his suitcase for check-in.

The urn was tightly screwed closed and he says it was packed with extra clothing for padding and protection.

But when he arrived in Puerto Rico, he found his mother ashes dumped inside of the suitcase, all over his clothing and with a TSA notice of inspection.

The lawsuit, seeking $750,000 in damages, names multiple defendants including “The United States of America, Transportation Security Administration, Attorney General of the United States, Department of Justice, 10 agents or employees with the TSA, and 10 other unnamed persons who had contact with his luggage.

It states that “The United States is liable for damage to the urn and his personal effects,” and says the actions of  the TSA agents and others “constitute intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress.”

A TSA spokesperson told FOX 8 that they cannot comment on pending litigation, and therefore cannot say what exactly happened to this urn.

However, TSA guidelines for transporting and inspecting urns are clearly outlined in their rule books and on their websites.

According to TSA policies and procedures and due to possible security threats, “all urns are subject to screening and must pass through the x-ray machine,” but “under no circumstances will an officer open the container.”

Mr. Thomas’ attorney says his client followed the rules closely and still found himself facing this terrible situation.

And he says, possibly most egregious of all, at no time has anyone ever even apologized for what happened.


  • Click here for TSA Blog: Traveling with Crematory Remains
  • Click here for TSA’s partnership with funeral homes to safely transport cremated remains