Many parents teach their children early on the damage words can do to others. This lesson has made headlines over recent years in connection with school age bullying. However, this may also be a valuable lesson for adults to make note of as a man from Lake Oswego recently found out when he was labeled as a terrorist by local gas station employees. Accusations such as these, can permanently damage an individual’s reputation in the community, regardless of the legitimacy of the claims.
As a result of the derogatory claims, the 57-year-old man has entered into civil litigation, suing the owner of the gas station chain, as well as the chain’s parent company for their actions that he maintains led to his subsequent arrest.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit seeks $1.01 million, all but $10,000 of it for pain, humiliation, suffering and a damaged reputation. The smaller amount is for financial losses, including legal fees.
The case started in July 2010 when the man went to a local service station to put gas in his truck. Employees of the station noticed he had left his briefcase atop the pump while he filled up. As he left the station, an employee said he shouted, “I’m the Unabomber,” and then he pointed at the briefcase, police said.
A station employee removed the briefcase and called police. When the man returned to pick up his briefcase, Lake Oswego police took him into custody, citing him for misdemeanor possession of a destructive device intended to commit a hoax, as well as for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. City prosecutors later dropped the case before it could go to trial in Lake Oswego Municipal Court.
In the suit, the man contends he inadvertently left his briefcase at the location and never claimed to be the Unabomber. Additionally, he said the gas station workers should have tried to reasonably inspect his briefcase to make sure it did not contain a weapon.
The man known as the Unabomber is a domestic terrorist already serving time in prison. Over a period of nearly two decades, he killed three people and injured 23 others by placing bombs in their mailboxes. Arrested in 1996, he was sentenced to life in prison.
Source: The Oregonian, “Lake Oswego man files $1 million lawsuit, alleging false arrest for terrorism,” Rick Bella, June 15, 2012