published on May 24, 2016 - 8:27 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

(AP) — The California taxi driver who was kidnapped and held hostage for a week by three inmates who escaped from jail is suing the county and the sheriff’s department.

A lawyer for Long Hoang Ma said Monday that the cabbie was taken by force and held at gunpoint because of county and law enforcement negligence.

The lawsuit, filed May 17, asks for $50,000 of reward money and says Ma suffered damages of at least $2 million, the Orange County Register reported.

Lt. Mark Stichter said the Orange County Sheriff’s Department had not been served with the lawsuit as of Monday.

Ma was kidnapped when he picked up a fare Jan. 22 by three men who escaped that day from the county-operated Central Men’s Jail in Santa Ana. All three were eventually recaptured.

Ma’s attorney, Hoang Huy Tu, said the taxi driver was wrongly deprived his portion of the county’s reward money promised to those who helped lead to the re-arrests of Bac Duong, Hossein Nayeri and Jonathan Tieu.

The $150,000 was split by four others: a San Francisco homeless man who spotted the van the men were in at one point, a man who said the inmates stole his van while they were on the run, and two Target employees who recognized the fugitives from surveillance footage.

The attorney said Ma, now 72, was instrumental in the trio’s capture, helping convince Duong to turn himself in.

“They say they didn’t give him any money because he was a victim,” Tu said of county officials. “But the man who had his van stolen was a victim too. … He got some of the reward.”

The suit also says the jail was not properly equipped to house the three “very dangerous” men. Tu said Ma is emotionally distressed, has anxiety and difficulty working.

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