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Attacked Uber Driver Files Personal Injury Suit Against Taco Bell Exec

Uber
Golden was charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, battery, battery on a public transit employee with injury and assault on public transportation property. He faces up to a year in jail or a $10,000 fine if convicted.

An Uber driver who posted dashboard-camera video of himself being pummeled by a customer filed a personal injury lawsuit today against the Newport Beach man, who apologized for his actions and said in a televised interview that he was ashamed of what he did.

Benjamin Allen Golden, a 32-year-old Taco Bell marketing executive who lost his job over Friday’s encounter, hopes to personally convey the same message to the driver, according to his attorney, Courtney Pilchman.

“He has reached out to (Edward Caban’s attorney) to meet privately with his client so my client would have an opportunity to apologize in person,” Pilchman told City News Service. “We’ll have to wait and see if he’s willing to accept that.”

Caban’s lawyer said the 23-year-old Uber driver, was so frightened by the incident, which has received widespread news coverage since his video post went viral, that he has been sleeping with a shotgun within arm’s reach.

“This is basically a nightmare for him. He’s having a very, very tough time sleeping,” Rivers Morrell III said.

“As of yesterday I don’t think he’s slept at all,” the attorney told City News Service. “He’s still got fear. He’s fearful this guy will come after him. That may seem odd to you and I, but he’s never been in any sort of altercation of any kind.”

Golden told KCAL9 he is sincerely sorry and is now seeking counseling.

Golden said he doesn’t remember any of what happened, but acknowledges what he did.

“I want to apologize. I wasn’t in the right state,” he said. “I’d like him to know that that’s not me and that I’m sincerely sorry.”

Caban put the camera in his vehicle after consulting with other Uber drivers, who have been complaining that some customers lie about problems to get refunds or are too drunk to give proper instructions, Morrell said.

Caban installed the camera with a GPS function to prove where he has driven his vehicle, his attorney said. The camera usually faces forward, but Caban swung it around the night of the run-in with Golden, the lawyer said.

“… he saw this thing starting to escalate,” Morrell said. “That’s why he turned it around, so he could document that this happened. Otherwise, it would be his word against someone else, so a lot of the drivers are starting to do this.”

Pilchman said her client doesn’t have a drinking problem, despite a prior arrest for drunken driving in Kentucky a few years ago. In fact, he called for a ride to be responsible because he was going to drink and celebrate Halloween, she said.

“He’s not a big drinker, and so I guess he went out for Halloween festivities and he knew he was going to be drinking,” Pilchman said. “But he doesn’t have a consistent drinking pattern or habit. He’s a social drinker who doesn’t go out very often.”

Golden only remembers being arrested, Pilchman said.

“The only sort of recollection that he has is getting arrested, but he did watch the video and he was appalled at the behavior and did not recognize the behavior,” she said.

“This was something beyond out of character for him. I’ve been with him for only a couple of days and he’s very emotional about it because it’s not who he is.

“He certainly wants to figure out why he did what he did. He’ll go to counseling to figure out what happened because it’s disturbing to him, but he has no history of aggressive behavior.”

Golden worked in the marketing department of Taco Bell until Monday, when he was terminated, Pilchman said.

The following day, Golden was charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, battery, battery on a public transit employee with injury and assault on public transportation property. He faces up to a year in jail or a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Golden’s public statement of apology was issued before he knew of Caban’s lawsuit, which was filed in Orange County Superior Court and seeks unspecified damages, according to Pilchman.

“The reason for the statement is Mr. Golden really is very remorseful and wants to express that,” Pilchman said. “We did not send out any press release to combat a lawsuit… I learned of the lawsuit this afternoon.”

Golden, who is out of custody, is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 17. At the hearing, prosecutors will ask that bail be set at $20,000.

The alleged assault happened about 8:10 p.m. Friday in Costa Mesa, according to police. Caban is seen being struck numerous times in the video, but he did not need medical treatment, said Costa Mesa police Lt. Greg Scott.

Golden had called for an Uber driver to pick him up from a Newport Beach bar. He struggled to tell Caban where he wanted to go, so the driver eventually stopped in a parking lot at 1835 Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa and told him to get out, Scott said.

Golden “punched and slapped the side of the driver’s face,” the lieutenant said.

On the video, Golden can be seen in the back seat of the car with the door open, but he leans forward and repeatedly hits the driver in the head, then grabs him by the hair and tries to slam his head into the driver’s-side door window.

The driver, acting in self-defense, pepper-sprayed Golden, Scott said.

“I’m just a regular guy trying to make his way in the world and I don’t know how to do that now,” Golden told KCAL9 in the wake of his firing.

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