Cab Driver Kidnapped By Fugitives Is Suing Orange County For Reward Money
A cab driver who was kidnapped by three escaped inmates from an Orange County jail plans to sue the county, citing discrimination as the reason he didn't receive a portion of the reward for the inmates' capture.
Long Ma went through quite an ordeal. After three Orange County inmates broke out of Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana in January, they called a cab to take them to Target. Ma, a 71-year-old Vietnamese-American man, was their driver. The men kept him with them for several days, occasionally getting into arguments over whether or not they should kill him until, finally, one of the men split from the group with Ma and turned himself in. The other two were captured shortly thereafter in San Francisco.
A total of $150,000 in reward money was split up among four people by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and Ma was not one of them, ABC 7 reports. Rather, the money when to a pair of Target employees who recognized the inmates on surveillance footage, a man from whom one of the inmates stole a van, and a homeless man who spotted the two of the inmates in San Francisco.
Ma believes he is entitled to a portion of the reward because not only did he befriend and talk inmate Bac Duong into surrendering, but he was also able to provide authorities with details that led to the men's capture. Ma's lawyer, Hoang Huy Tu, said that the county has shown a "pattern of discrimination," as they also failed to give any reward money to the Vietnamese-American woman and friend of Duong's who called police when Duong came to her auto body shop to turn himself in, the L.A. Times reports.
Ma has also blamed the county for "his suffering," which he said includes PTSD as a result of his kidnapping. He and his lawyer have already filed a $2 million claim against the County, accusing them of negligence that led to Ma's kidnapping.
The board has pointed to a state code that says that a public entity, such as a county, is not liable for any injuries caused by an escapee. Therefore, the board has claimed they have no legal authority to give Ma any reward money. Tu said he hopes to challenge that code.
"What if it happened again? Who is protected? Now that we know about it, we should change it," Tu said.
Tu said he intends to file the lawsuit later this week.