The case between TriMet and Randy Albright took a step closer to resolution today. Albright, a reporter from the Oregonian, and lawyers from both sides met this morning in downtown Portland for an arbitration session.
I was subpoenaed by TriMet’s lawyers for my reporting on the case but I could not attend today’s arbitration and I refused to cooperate with a written affidavit or telephone statement as requested by their legal team.
Thankfully, the Oregonian was on the scene and their news blog just published more details from the hearing. Apparently some new evidence emerged:
“A witness said in a statement that the passenger told the driver “He’d take care of this,” and asked to be let off. The witness heard the driver say: “Yeah, go ahead. I can’t do anything but you can.””
The Oregonian also reported that the driver (the late Harold Cooper, 61) was suspended for 30 days after the incident came to light.
As I expected—based on my communications with TriMet’s lawyers—their only defense in the case is to paint Albright as an angry, extremist, hell-bent on picking fights with motorists. Here’s more from the Oregonian:
“TriMet attorney Lawrence Schuckman painted Albright as an angry, inconsiderate man who broke the law by blocking the bus, delaying more than 60 commuters. TriMet officials testified that the driver was following company policy when he let the agitated passenger off the bus. The driver had no way of knowing the passenger was about to commit a crime, Schuckman said.”
The Oregonian also reports that Albright claims that all the media attention (at one point he turned down an interview with Good Morning America) and uproar from the lawsuit was “emotionally taxing” and that he “had trouble sleeping from all the stress.”
The Oregonian says we should expect a decision by the arbitrator within a week, despite a motion by TriMet to have the case dismissed.