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Man sues gas station after arrest in local Unabomber scare

Feared bomb was just papers in a briefcase


A Lake Oswego man has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the owners of a Boones Ferry Road gas station alleging he was wrongly arrested and called a 'terrorist' after setting his briefcase on a gas pump and driving away.

Edmund D. Sullivan filed the lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court against Cain Petroleum Inc., a Portland-based, family-owned company that operates the Chevron station at 15905 Boones Ferry Road, and Chevron USA Inc. Although the arrest took place in Clackamas County, both companies are licensed to do business in Multnomah County, according to the suit.

Sullivan was detained July 13, 2010, after returning to the station to retrieve a metal briefcase he had left on top of a gas pump.

Station employees had called police, alleging Sullivan told an attendant, 'I'm the Unabomber,' before driving away. Authorities responded to what was classified as a 'suspicious device' call and closed several Lake Grove roads for two hours - until police determined the briefcase contained nothing but papers.

According to the lawsuit, Sullivan accidentally left his briefcase, which contained his wallet and other personal belongings, and he 'at no time made any statements to anyone about being ‘the Unabomber' or anything of the sort.'

The lawsuit accuses gas station employees of 'using a call to the police as an attempt to cover up an attempted theft' of Sullivan's personal property, which was valued at $100.

Sullivan's attorneys contend the gas station company was negligent in reporting the lost briefcase to police, in telling police Sullivan claimed to be the Unabomber and by failing to make a 'reasonable' inspection of the briefcase contents and hold onto it for Sullivan's retrieval. In addition, the suit says the gas station should have adopted and enforced policies and procedures for handling customers' lost property.

Sullivan's arrest as a 'terrorist' was heavily publicized in local news outlets, his attorney Randall Vogt noted early this week.

'His name was put in the paper and on the Internet as a terrorist,' Vogt said.

The lawsuit seeks $1 million in noneconomic damages for Sullivan's resulting physical and mental pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, humiliation, injury to his reputation, and loss of care and comfort and companionship in society. It also seeks monetary losses of $10,000 for legal fees.

The 'Unabomber,' Theodore 'Ted' Kaczynski, is serving a life sentence in a maximum-security prison in Colorado for his role in a series of mail bombings that killed three people and injured many more.

Ron Cain, owner of the Cain Petroleum chain of Chevron stations, did not respond to requests for comment.