The Bugle Wiki

Robert Ekas filed a federal lawsuit to defend what he says is his First Amendment right to express himself by flipping off police officers. Clackamas County settled the lawsuit for $4,000.(Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)

A man who claimed deputies harassed him after he flipped them off has settled a federal lawsuit against Clackamas County.

Robert J. Ekas received $4,000, including $600 for legal costs. Ekas, who lives near Happy Valley, sued the county last year, claiming that deputies violated his free-speech rights and stopped his vehicle without probable cause.

A story earlier this year in The Oregonian brought Ekas national media attention, including radio interviews and an appearance of Comedy Central's "Colbert Report."

"We made a business decision. It was cheaper to settle the case than to proceed with litigation," said Assistant County Counsel Edward S. McGlone III.

Ekas said his decision to settle was based on the county's informal agreement "to implement a civil rights training program" for Sheriff's Office employees. "Whether they keep their promise or not is another matter," Ekas said.

McGlone said the county made no such promise but will offer training on civil rights and First Amendment issues to Sheriff's Office personnel soon as part of continuing legal education program for law enforcement officers.

Ekas was stopped by deputies in twice in 2007 after he flipped them off. One of the deputies cited Ekas for an illegal lane change and improper display of license plates. He was acquitted.

Ekas sued the Sheriff's Office and three of its employees, seeking corrective action and unspecified damages.

Ekas claimed the traffic stops were acts of retaliation that violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights. He said his actions were political statements and a protest of police violence against innocent civilians.