A former Taco Bell corporate manager who was captured on video drunkenly attacking his Uber driver is now suing that driver for $5 million, claiming that the recording was made without his consent, according to court documents.
Benjamin Golden, 32, of Newport Beach, said the now-viral video, which was taken by a dashboard-mounted camera and posted to YouTube by the driver, was recorded unknowingly and without his permission while he was intoxicated and was an invasion of his privacy, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
The driver, Edward Caban, sued Golden in November, claiming assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.
Golden filed his $5-million countersuit last month, saying the video, which was viewed millions of times, caused him severe emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, the loss of his employment and the inability to get another job. Golden was fired from his position as a marketing manager for Taco Bell.
Posting the video online was “so extreme as to exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized community,” Golden’s lawsuit said.
Golden’s attorney, Courtney Pilchman, declined to comment on the allegations Monday.
Caban’s attorney, Rivers J. Morrell III, called Golden’s suit “bogus.”
“He’s now blaming everybody else and not taking responsibility for his conduct,” Morrell said of Golden. “I don’t buy it, and I think it will make him look even worse than he already does.”
On Oct. 30, Golden summoned an Uber ride after a night of drinking, his lawsuit says, adding that Caban let him into the vehicle knowing he was drunk.
Caban posted a video on YouTube, a video that he also shared with police, showing what he said were the final minutes of the ride.
In the video, Caban can be seen turning his forward-facing dashboard camera, which had been facing the street, around to film the inside of the car after he asks Golden to give him directions.
Golden argues with Caban over directions, and Caban stops the car, asking Golden to get out after he appears to fall over in the backseat.
“You are too drunk to give me directions,” Caban says.
Golden responds: “I am giving you directions right now.”
Caban tells Golden to get out of his car or he will call the police. As Golden opens the door, he can be seen repeatedly hitting Caban and pulling his hair. Caban then pepper-sprays Golden, whom police arrested shortly afterward.
Golden’s lawsuit says he was forced out of Caban’s car because Caban could not locate his address. Caban, the suit says, was unwilling to drive him home, and Golden didn’t know where he was when Caban stopped the car.
“Mr. Golden was unaware of his location and began to fear for his safety and well-being,” the suit says.
The video posted to YouTube by Caban quickly went viral, with more than 2 million views. Within days, Golden publicly apologized, saying in a tearful televised interview: “It was hard to watch, and I’m ashamed.”
His attorneys, Pilchman and Anita Kay, said in a statement at the time that “Mr. Golden recognizes that despite his level of intoxication, he should have never slapped Mr. Caban and is extremely remorseful for his actions.”
They added, at the time, that their client “accepts full responsibility for his actions” and wanted to meet privately with Caban to apologize.
Morrell, Caban’s attorney, said Monday that Golden’s countersuit showed that the “apology tour” was disingenuous and that the two men never met privately.
Caban’s lawsuit does not specify how much money he is seeking, but a statement of damages provided to the Los Angeles Times by Golden’s attorneys on Monday showed that Caban is seeking $1.6 million. Morrell declined Monday to verify the amount being sought by his client.
After posting the video, Caban started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1,000 for medical expenses, saying he was uninsured and suffering ongoing headaches and daily anxiety attacks. He had raised about $1,200.
Morrell said his client had stopped working as an Uber driver because he was too afraid and that the GoFundMe money had gone toward paying immediate expenses while the suit was ongoing.
In November, Uber spokeswoman Kayla Whaling told The Times that Golden had been permanently banned from using the transit service.
In addition to the civil suit, Golden also faces four misdemeanor counts, including assault and battery, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. He has pleaded not guilty.