That Crazy Hyperloop Lawsuit Just Got Even Nastier
The wild legal battle between the founders of the company leading the race to build Elon Musk’s Hyperloop took a nasty turn today—including accusations of coup-planning sessions in a garage, stolen computers and files, and “fake pornographic Twitter accounts.”
An amended complaint from Hyperloop One is the latest salvo in a legal battle that started in July, when the company’s co-founder and CTO Brogan BamBrogan and three colleagues filed a lawsuit accusing their former employer and BamBrogan’s co-founder, Shervin Pishevar, of breach of fiduciary duty, violating labor laws, wrongful termination, breach of contract, defamation, infliction of emotional distress, and assault. The details included wasted company resources, an overpaid fiancée, and a noose left on BamBrogan’s desk.
A week later, Hyperloop One fired back with a countersuit that rebutted every accusation and added its own juicy details. That rope wasn’t a noose, the company claimed—just a lasso, left next to BamBrogan’s cowboy hat. Shervin Pishevar didn’t overpay his fiancée for public relations work; that $40,000 a month was her firm’s standard rate. As for BamBrogan, the countersuit accused him of “profane, erratic, sexist, and inebriated outbursts,” like punching a wall, breaking a beer bottle, and asking a visitor, “Can you believe all these bitches work for me?”
Hyperloop in Brief
Today, the company, which says it plans to have three Hyperloop lines running by 2020, piled onto its countersuit. The amended filing now says the “Gang of Four” held “a secret meeting in BamBrogan’s garage, in which they attempted to lead a mutiny of key Company employees, destroy Hyperloop One’s relationships with its current and prospective investors, ‘work around’ (or infringe) the Company’s patented technology, and launch a competing venture—‘NewCo’ as they called it.”
On top of that, the fresh filing says, BamBrogan and his people illegally took company-issued laptops, tablets, and iPhones, and now refuse to return data and documents they copied off the devices.
Then there’s the tweet. According to the amended filing, the “Gang of Four” created a Twitter account called “RealShervin” to make the company look bad. Hyperloop One’s filing says many of the 5,000 users who retweeted the account’s single post are also fake, and “pornographic in nature.”
— Real Shervin (@SiliconValleyMg) July 12, 2016
In a statement, Hyperloop One’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, said, “Their plot has been exposed. We will hold them responsible for their conspiracy and lies, as Hyperloop One continues to prosper as a better company without their destructive behavior.”
Naturally, Justin T. Berger, who represents BamBrogan and his three colleagues, put out his own statement, saying “This filing is nothing more than a thinly veiled publicity stunt. It contains nothing new of substance from the cross complaint filed by the company in July and is equally deficient as that one. We are confident the allegations and assertions will be proven false in court.”1
Whatever the truth or the outcome of this legal bareknuckle boxing, it’s bad news for anyone psyched about the idea of zooming around the country in a tube. The fight to make a working hyperloop already faces obstacles like financing, safety, and making a new form of transportation that can compete with airlines and freight trucks.
A nasty, high-profile legal battle between co-founders could scare off investors and make all that even harder.
1Story updated August 31, 2016 at 19:18 EST to include Berger’s response to Hyperloop One’s amended complaint.
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