Denied safe parking

By Mark Schremmer, staff writer

An OOIDA life member, who was shot while parked about a half-mile from the Oakland Coliseum, is suing for negligence after being denied parking inside the safety of the stadium lot.

Jerry Matson, 73, of Auburn, Ind., is the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority on Jan. 19 in Alameda County Superior Court.

Matson, who has been a truck driver for about 45 years, was set to deliver a Caterpillar Entertainment Generator on Dec. 15, 2015, to the Oakland Coliseum, which is the home of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and the MLB’s Oakland A’s. When Matson arrived at the stadium gate between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. that day, he said he was told by a member of the stadium’s security that he couldn’t enter the parking lot, the lawsuit said.

After Matson told the employee that he had made numerous deliveries in the past and was always allowed to spend the night to make the next morning’s delivery, he was still denied the ability to park at the stadium and was directed to park on the opposite side of Interstate 880, according to the lawsuit.

“I went over there to park, and I realized there’s ‘no parking’ signs everywhere,” Matson told Land Line Now following the incident. “I know what that means in California. It means no parking.”

He said he drove a little further and found a small public park. A uniformed law enforcement officer was around, so he parked and walked up to her and asked whether he could park in the area legally. The officer directed him to back into a spot adjacent to the park.

Parked about a half-mile from the stadium, he went to sleep. Around 10:30 p.m., Matson awoke to the sound of banging on the driver’s side door of his tractor and the window being smashed.

He told Land Line Now that he then sat up immediately and started yelling, as he was taught in the Marines. He took action with the only weapon he had – his voice.

“I said, ‘you’re not gonna shoot me for nothing.’ So I jumped up and started screaming.”

A hand reached into the window and pulled the trigger of a .45 caliber pistol – firing a bullet into Matson’s stomach near his belly button.

The intruder, who has never been caught, fled the scene.

The shooting led to Matson undergoing multiple surgeries and suffering from infections. His wife, Janet, spoke to Land Line last year after her husband was shot, reporting that doctors said the bullet was a ‘hair’ away from hitting a major artery. The injuries kept Matson out of work for about a year.

Nick Casper, an attorney for Matson, said the negligence of the coliseum’s employees put the longtime truck driver in harm’s way.

“Mr. Matson was familiar with the custom and practice of the coliseum to allow long-haul truckers who are making deliveries at night for an event at the coliseum to enter the enclosed parking lot and spend the night in the safe harbor of the parking lot and then to unload the following morning,” Casper said.

“That’s what he had always encountered there, as well as at other major event facilities across the country. For whatever reason when Jerry arrived that evening, multiple employees of the coliseum authority denied him entry. They refused to take it up the chain and instructed him to park across the freeway in an area where there’s space to pull over, but it is known to be very unsafe. Especially since he was carrying an expensive load, it was a target for criminal activity. We believe the negligence of the coliseum authority’s employees directly resulted in this unfortunate event.”

Casper added that the area Matson was told to park at is known as a high-crime area.

Matson is suing for lost wages, medical expenses, lost earning capacity, and for pain and suffering. LL

Reed Black, Land Line Now news anchor, contributed to this report.