Benjamin Golden, the former Taco Bell executive caught on dashcam video beating an Uber driver, may think he has a legal case in suing the very man he assaulted for $5 million, but in the court of public opinion he has already lost.
Following release of court documents last week that revealed Golden is countersuing the driver, Edward Caban, people took to social media to show their disapproval of Golden's tactics.
Here's one example from Twitter:
Hey Ex TacoBell Exec; #BenjaminGolden. Your OBVIOUSLY STILL DRUNK!, Filing a 5million dollar lawsuit against Uber Driver YOU attacked. uJOKE— Robert (@Job4meRobert) January 18, 2016
Said one user on Facebook in response to a CBS News story about Golden's lawsuit: "[I]t seems to me that a business owner should be allowed to have a camera in his place of business to use to identify and prosecute criminals when he is victimized.
Another Facebook user added that "the video says it all, this lawsuit needs to be rejected, and he needs to pay the Uber driver a $10 million dollar for assaulting him."
Golden's lawsuit, filed in early December but only disclosed to the media last week, claims not only that Caban was unhurt in the October incident, but also that any damages were caused by Caban himself or "other third parties."
Further, the suit says that because of "overwhelming media coverage" of the dashcam video, which been viewed well over 2 million times on YouTube, Golden "has suffered severe emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, fear, pain and suffering and the loss of his job."
Golden apologized for the attack several days after the Oct. 30 incident, saying that he was drunk when he got into the car, but admitting that his behavior was inexcusable and out of character. For his part, Caban is suing for $25,000 for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Caban has since left Uber.
CBS Legal Analyst Rikki Klieman said Golden's case is laughable, noting that it relies on an unlikely interpretation of California's two-party consent law, which prohibits illegal eavesdropping by requiring that all parties involved in a private conversation be made aware if it is being recorded.
"The real operative words are these: private and confidential," Klieman told "CBS This Morning." "I say if you are in a car, a cab, a bus, an Uber, that ultimately you are in a public setting. People can observe you."
In such a setting, Klieman added, it's not possible to have an intimate, confidential conversation as defined by the California statute.
Golden's ultimate motive in bringing the suit may be to suppress the video during the criminal trial, Klieman said. But even if that legal maneuver should work, Goldman may still lose "because you have the observations of the driver."
Or as one Facebook user said of Golden, if "he should win this ludicrous lawsuit I hope the jury only awards him a dollar or, even better, one cent. And awards the driver punitive damages in the millions."