One-armed trucker files $5.5 million lawsuit accusing Oregon of violating his civil rights

Author Subject: One-armed trucker files $5.5 million lawsuit accusing Oregon of violating his civil rights
Watchdog Posted At 11:15:47 05/04/2001

Scott Cook says the Department of Transportation erred by not allowing him to drive without a prosthetic arm

Friday, May 4, 2001

COOS BAY -- A one-armed truck driver who was forced to stop driving in January has put his log truck up for sale and started commercial fishing with his son, but Scott Cook isn't through with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Cook, a Bandon resident, filed a $5.5 million lawsuit this week against the department, saying it violated his civil rights by not allowing him to drive without a prosthetic arm.

The lawsuit seeks $438,000 for past and future income losses, $100,000 for defamation of character and $5 million in punitive damages and attorney's fees.

"I want everybody in the United States to know what's going on here," Cook said, adding that he doesn't care if he wins damages, as long as he wins the case. "This can't ever happen to anybody ever again."

Cook, 43, lost his left arm below the elbow in a meat grinder at age 5 and refuses to wear a prosthesis, saying it would hinder his ability to drive his log truck. He has driven the truck in Alaska and Oregon for nearly 20 years without an accident, but he does have citations for driving without insurance and speeding.

The state Department of Transportation is enforcing a federal law that requires drivers without limbs to wear a prosthesis. Federal examiners will not test a one-armed person's driving abilities unless he is wearing such a device.

Cook, who does not consider himself disabled, has spent years cutting timber, flying planes and racing motorcycles.

A Department of Transportation officer stopped Cook twice -- in March 2000 and January 2001 -- on south coast highways and ordered him to park his truck until he was fitted with a prosthetic arm.

A Curry County Circuit Court judge dismissed the original charge against Cook because he had a physician's approval to drive and an accident-free record.

Cook's attorney, Roger Gould of Coos Bay, said his client had a doctor's approval to drive a truck. He said the state is violating Cook's civil rights.

"Our thrust is the law is not being properly applied to him," Gould said.

In addition to citing a breach of state and federal civil rights laws, the U.S. Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit includes a defamation of character allegation against the weighmaster who cited Cook. According to the complaint, Barry Lambert told Oregon State Police officers at the scene in January that Cook had fired a gun at police two years earlier, a statement Cook says is not true.

Oregon Department of Transportation officials had not received the complaint and would not comment on the case.

Meanwhile, Cook said he is struggling to pay his bills and is selling his 1964 Peterbilt log truck. He is working with his 20-year-old son, Conor, as a commercial salmon fisherman.

So far, he said, they haven't made much money.

Tarzan Re: One-armed trucker files $5.5 million lawsuit accusing Oregon of violating his civil rights (Currently 2 replies)
Posted At 20:23:08 05/04/2001

Good for you, best of luck.

Difficulty makes you stronger.

And it is amazing what a man can do with one arm and a couple of bones sticking out. The bones almost become fingers.

I hope your case draws some attention, because you deserve it.

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