The Taco Bell executive fired after video of him drunkenly attacking his Uber driver went viral is now suing the driver for $5 million.
Filed in Orange County Superior Court last month, the lawsuit brought by 32-year-old Benjamin Allen Golden of Newport Beach claims he “suffered severe emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, fear, pain and suffering and the loss of his job,” according to CNBC, which saw a copy of the complaint Friday and immediately broke the story.
Here is the incident at the center of Golden’s arrest, firing, lawsuit against him by Uber driver Edward Caban and now his own suit against Caban, according to the Costa Mesa Police Department: Shortly after 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, Golden had Caban pick him up from a bar in the Newport Pier area, but while being driven away he was unable to clearly give directions about where he wanted to go. In a parking lot at 1835 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, Caban told Golden to get out of the vehicle, prompting the rider to punch and slap the side of the driver’s face. In self-defense, Caban pepper sprayed Golden. The rider was later arrested on suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct and booked into Costa Mesa city jail.
Caban uploaded dashboard video of his encounter with Golden onto YouTube, and it went on to be viewed well over 2 million times.
That led Taco Bell of Irvine to fire its senior associate brand manager and issue a statement that ended with, “Given the behavior of the individual, it is clear he can no longer work for us. We have also offered and encouraged him to seek professional help.”
The Orange County District Attorney’s office charged Golden with four misdemeanor counts, including assault on a public transportation property, battery on a public transit employee with injury, assault and battery, and said he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $10,000 fine. (A day before news of his suit against Caban broke, Golden had a court hearing where the misdemeanor case was continued.)
Shortly after Golden, through his lawyers, tried unsuccessfully to seek a private meeting with Caban, through his attorneys, the criminal defendant learned that the Uber driver filed a personal injury lawsuit against him seeking unspecified damages. Caban by then had quit as an Uber driver, vowing to move out of state.
Golden’s lawyers first issued a statement from their client apologizing, and then he went on a Los Angeles television newscast to tearfully say to the cameras he was sorry.
Not so sorry that he’s now seeking $5 million from Caban, obviously.
“It just tells me how disingenuous Golden was on his apology tour,” Caban’s attorney, Rivers Morrell III, told CNBC. “What’s he want to apologize for if everything was the fault of Edward?”
Ah yes, fault. According to Golden’s complaint, the whole incident is Caban’s fault for picking up an intoxicated passenger.
You know, Golden himself.
He also claims California law makes it illegal to record someone without their consent. Morrell counters through the media that applies to audio recordings, not videos, and besides: Caban informed Golden he was going to record him, according to the lawyer.
In her own time with CNBC, Golden’s lawyer Courtney Pilchman said that Caban seems to be “quite the opportunist,” and that “there’s very little truth to the damages that he claims,” which include post-traumatic stress and claims that he lives in fear after his violent confrontation with Golden.
“I don’t believe he has any of those,” she said.
One wonders how she would reach that conclusion: Golden’s lawyer has also said he does not remember the attack.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.