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A Georgia Tech fan, a sandwich and a strip search add up to one strange lawsuit

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

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Traditionally, college football fans — and Southern football fans, in particular — are adept at sneaking forbidden items past the stadium gates: Flasks, flags, cowbells, what have you. Smugglers who make it to their seats unmolested wear their victory as a subtle badge of pride.

Traditionally, chicken sandwiches don't figure very highly on the list of contraband. But a ban is a ban, and as one Georgia Tech fan learned the hard way last fall, in this paranoid age, the gatekeepers can never be too vigilant. From WSBTV in Atlanta:

[Mary] Clayton said the incident happened in late September of last year. The Georgia Tech season ticket holder said she had just bought a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and was rushing to her seats before kickoff.

"They told me I couldn't bring it in, and that was fine," Clayton said. She said she walked away and tossed the sandwich into the garbage but when she returned, officers stopped her.

"People were saying I had a chicken sandwich hidden in the front of my pants," Clayton said and consented to a search. "I believed at the time a reasonable search was they would pat my pockets down."

Instead she said a female Georgia Tech police officer took her into a bathroom stall and ordered her to drop her pants.

"She then examined my underwear closely, all the way around, and when she didn't find anything I was told to lift my shirt and bra and expose myself," Clayton said.

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Clayton has filed a lawsuit accusing Georgia Tech and its private security company of "false arrest," "false imprisonment" and "illegal search" in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, among other things. (You can read the entire suit here.) In a police report, the Georgia Tech officer who accompanied Clayton to the bathroom denied she ordered a strip search, writing, "to my surprise, the individual then without instructions unbuttoned her pants and lowered them to the floor and lifted her shirt." Georgia Tech said the case was being handled by the state attorney general's office; Clayton has subsequently given up her season tickets.

"They took away something that I really loved and I looked forward to each year," she said. "And that was football season."

I'm a fake doctor, not a lawyer, but in Georgia Tech's defense, it does defy belief that anyone — especially anyone who lives in or near Atlanta — would voluntarily forego the opportunity to finish a delicious, delicious Chick-Fil-A sandwich under anything short of the threat of possible physical violence. If this was an SEC game, maybe. But does anyone really love Georgia Tech football that much?

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Hat tip: Blutarsky.
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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