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Uber Driver Sues Drunk Passenger; Passenger Countersues. Who’s Right?

Uber Driver Sues Drunk Passenger; Passenger Countersues.  Who’s Right?

As a Los Angeles accident lawyer, I’ve discussed some of the legal issues with Uber on these pages before.

An Orange County Court now has another issue to grapple with involving the ride-sharing behemoth and one of its former drivers.

Edward Caban picked up business executive Benjamin Golden in Costa Mesa on October 30th.  As the ride progressed, Caban determined that Golden was too drunk to continue.  So he politely asked Golden to exit his car.

That’s when things got ugly.

Golden lost his temper and attacked Caban.  Unfortunately for Golden, the entire assault was captured on Caban’s dashcam.

Video of the confrontation went viral.  Golden quickly lost his job with Taco Bell, and the Orange County DA’s Office is pressing charges for misdemeanor assault and battery.

Caban  filed a civil suit against Golden for the attack.

Last week, Golden countersued Caban, arguing that Caban knew Golden was drunk, and that the video of the assault was illegally recorded under California law, and so all charges against Golden should be dropped.

Who’s right?

The California Penal Code, which applies to criminal matters, does make it illegal to record an audio or video conversation without all parties’ consent.

But Golden’s argument, in this Rabbi Lawyer’s opinion, is without merit.

There is a firmly established body of Supreme Court cases holding that individuals in cars do not have an objectively “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

For this reason, search warrants aren’t required under the 4th Amendment when police officers stop a driver in a car and ask to search it.

In other words, because cars travel outdoors in public and are mobile, even if someone subjectively expects privacy inside the car, that expectation is not reasonable on an objective basis.  That probably means that the video of Golden’s attack which took place inside the car would be admissible in the criminal case.

The argument that Caban knew Golden was drunk when he picked him up is irrelevant.  Does a driver assume the risk of being violently pummeled when he/she picks up a drunk passenger?

Not in my world.

Of course, the opinions expressed here are my own, and I could be wrong!  But this unfortunate case does bring forward some unusual legal issues that we don’t see every day.

For questions about your Los Angeles accident case, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6!