A father and daughter are reportedly suing the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Transportation Security Administration, saying the agencies confiscated $82,373 in cash that represents the father's life savings.
Neither has been charged with a crime and the money hasn't been returned since the incident in August.
According to NBC Connecticut and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rebecca Brown says she took the cash from the home of her father, Terry Rolin, 79, who lives in a Pittsburgh suburb. She was bringing it to Massachusetts to take charge of his finances.
The money was reportedly kept in a Tupperware bowl. According to the Post-Gazette, Rolin said he learned from his parents to keep money hidden in the home, not in banks. But he started getting nervous about keeping all that money around.
Brown reportedly put the money in her purse and was questioned by TSA about it when she went through security at Pittsburgh International Airport. She was allowed to pass with the money. But then, Brown says, she was approached at the gate by a DEA agent and a state trooper.
They wanted to call her father to corroborate the reason she was traveling with the cash, according to the reports. But the suit claims Rolin was groggy and confused during the 7 a.m. call, and that he suffers from cognitive issues. The agent reportedly told Brown that her answers didn't match with Rolin's and he took the cash.
Brown also said she and her siblings planned to use some of the money to buy Rolin a new truck as a surprise, but Rolin wouldn't have known that at the time of the call.
The Institute for Justice has reportedly filed a class-action lawsuit against the DEA and TSA to get the money back and to stop the practice of seizing money at airports which it calls unconstitutional.
The group says it has filed similar lawsuits in Houston and Cleveland, according to the Post-Gazette.
"This is a blatant abuse of power to just reach into someone's pocket without any cause and say, 'I'm going to take that,'" said Brown.
Neither the TSA nor DEA would comment, according to NBC Connecticut.