It all started the night of October 30, 2015 when Uber driver Edward Caban picked up a drunken Benjamin Golden. Golden had called the ride sharing service after a night out drinking. Caban recorded the events of the drive on with a camera mounted on his dash, which Caban says he put in after he had trouble with passengers in the past. During the ride Golden can be seen having trouble staying upright. Caban stopped the car and told Golden that he was too drunk to give directions and asked Golden to exit the vehicle or Caban said he would call the police.
Golden then opened the door to exit the vehicle and that’s when the attack occurred. He can be seen on the video pummeling Caban in the head and grabbing his hair in an attempt to bash his head through a window. Caban had to pepper-spray Golden to end the attack. Golden was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery and assault charges. After the attack Caban posted the video of the assault to YouTube. The video went viral, racking up more than 2 million views. A few days later Golden issued a public apology for his behavior.
Caban subsequently filed a lawsuit against Golden alleging assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking compensation for the loss of his job as an Uber driver as after the attack Caban states he is “too nervous to continue behind the wheel.” Caban is also seeking to recover his medical expenses.
In an interesting turn of events, Golden recently filed a countersuit against Caban. In his lawsuit, Golden claims that Caban violated his privacy by recording him without his permission. In his suit, Golden claims as a result of the YouTube video he was fired from his job at Taco Bell as a marketing manager. Seeking damages of $5 million Golden states the video “caused him severe emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, the loss of his employment and the inability to get another job.” His lawsuit alleges that posting the video of the incident online was “so extreme as to exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized community.”
According to CNN commentator and criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky, Golden may have a legitimate privacy claim. Kavinoky stated that California is a “two party recording state” meaning that all parties must consent to being recorded and the subsequent dissemination of that recording. The law applies to confidential communications, where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. People out in public may not have that same reasonable expectation of privacy, but whether or not they do depends on the circumstances of the case. Thus, the California court hearing Golden’s case will tasked with answering the question of whether or not Golden had a reasonable expectation of privacy as a passenger in an Uber car. If the court decides he does, then Caban could be liable for damages.
Uber has become an increasingly popular method of transportation. In fact, San Francisco’s Yellow Cab Co-op stated ride sharing services, like Uber, are one of the reasons that they had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. With so many people using the ride sharing service, this is likely not the last legal battle that will involve an Uber driver.