Fired Taco Bell exec in Uber attack suing driver for $5 million
A former Taco Bell executive who was arrested and fired after a viral dash-cam video showed him attacking an Uber driver is now suing that driver for $5 million — saying the driver illegally recorded the violent incident.
Ousted exec Benjamin Golden, 32, also said in court papers that driver Edward Caban, is to blame for any injuries he suffered during their Oct. 30 encounter in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Golden's lawyer Courtney Pilchman told CNBC on Friday that she also has informed prosecutors she will seek to have Caban's video of the attack barred from evidence in the criminal case against Golden on the grounds that the recording was allegedly illegally made by the driver.
Related: Outsed Taco Bell Exec Sorry for Uber Car Fracas, Attorney Says
Pilchman said that Caban, 23, 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.
Both Golden's claim for $5 million in damages from Caban and others, as well as his suggestion that Caban bore responsibility for any "damages" he incurred, are contained in court documents filed in response to Caban's own civil lawsuit against Golden for the attack.
Caban's lawyer Rivers Morrell III on Friday said that Golden's claims about the recording's legal status and his blaming of Caban are "disingenuous" and "totally bogus."
Golden, a Newport Beach resident, is taking an aggressive legal tack against Caban despite lawyers Pilchman and Anita Kay earlier having said that Golden wanted to "sincerely apologize" to the driver for the incident and that he was "extremely remorseful."
"Mr. Golden accepts full responsibility for his actions and understands the consequences that may occur as a result," the lawyers said in November. Pilchman also said at that time that Golden was too drunk to remember the event.
But Golden, in legal filings, now claims Caban recorded him and the Uber ride that went bad without Golden's consent, in violation of California state law, according to court filings obtained by CNBC.
Golden's civil cross-complaint cites the California penal code, which says a person cannot intentionally record a conversation with someone else "without the consent of all parties."
Golden also claims that unknown other persons — whom he is also suing — violated the law further by disseminating the video of that encounter that Caban later posted on YouTube, and which has been viewed well over 2 million times.
Golden furthers said in filings that because of the "overwhelming media coverage" of the video, Golden "has suffered severe emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, fear, pain and suffering and the loss of his job."
That video shows Golden repeatedly slapping Caban and pulling the driver's hair after Caban tells him to get out of the car on the evening of Oct. 30. In the video, Caban pulls over and is heard telling Golden to leave the vehicle because he's "too drunk" to provide directions home.
Golden was arrested after the incident, and is charged with multiple misdemeanor charges of assault and battery. Days later, Taco Bell fired Golden, who had led mobile commerce and innovation initiatives for the fast-food chain owned by Yum Brands.
In his own court filings, Golden claims it was "apparent to Mr. Caban that Mr. Golden was intoxicated when he picked him up, yet he continued to allow Mr. Golden inside his vehicle."
Golden's filing also downplays his incident that led to assault and battery charges against Golden, saying that, "After being dropped off in an unknown location, an incident ensued between Mr. Caban and Mr. Golden."
Caban, who quit working for Uber because of the attack and sued Golden on Nov. 3, accusing him of assault and infliction of emotional distress, days after posting the video online.
On Nov. 4, Golden's lawyers issued a statement saying he apologized for the attack, added that he recognized that "he never should have slapped Mr. Caban" and had "deep regret" for his conduct. They also said he was "seeking counseling."
But a month later, on Dec. 7, Golden filed both a cross-complaint against Caban for $5 million over the driver's purported illegal recording of him, and also filed his answer to the driver's lawsuit.
Although those documents were filed last month, they have not previously been reported in the media. CNBC obtained them from the Orange County Superior Court system on Friday, a day after a hearing in Golden's criminal case ended with the case being continued.
In his civil answer, Golden said that he denies causing any damage to the driver, and added that even if there were any damages they "were proximately caused by the negligence, fault or carelessness" of Caban himself," or "other third parties."
Caban's lawyer Morrell, asked what he thought about Golden's claims, said, "I don't think much of it at all."
"It just tells me how disingenuous Golden was on his apology tour," Morrell said. "What's he want to apologize for if everything was the fault of Edward?"
Morrell also said that Caban had told Golden he was recording their ride. The lawyer also said that he believes that the state penal code only applies to audio recording, not video recording.
"He lost his job because of the video" portion of the record, which showed the violence, Morrell said. The lawyer said the audio portion did not play a role in Golden getting fired.
Watch the original dashcam video here (offensive language).