Hyperloop Technologies has been hit with a lawsuit by its co-founder over claims he was wrongfully terminated and his character defamed.
Hyperloop Technologies co-founder and CTO Brogan BamBrogan, along with other former employees, sued the company for wrongful termination, alleging, among other things, that they were forced out for speaking to investors about cultural issues within the futuristic firm. They also claim they were forced by venture capitalists Shervin Pishevar and Joe Lonsdale to enter into contracts that weren't in the best interests of the company.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the suit was filed on Tuesday in the Superior Court of California. It includes scathing descriptions of Pishevar's alleged activities while BamBrogan was at the company and even includes an image of what the plaintiffs say, is "Pishevar approaching Plaintiff BamBrogan's desk with with a noose coiled in his left hand."
"The message was clear, and made even more so later that day, when Hyperloop One presented its final offer in response to the group of eleven employees' letter: no core changes would be made, and three heads would roll: Plaintiffs Pendergast and Mulholland would be fired, and BamBrogan would be demoted and forced to take a leave of absence (and would not be terminated outright only if he promised to 'behave')," the lawsuit reads. "If the group of eleven accepted the proposal, then Defendants promised not to 'pursue them to the ends of the earth,' threatening economic and legal warfare by millionaires with extensive networks."
Hyperloop Technologies took on Tesla CEO Elon Musk's challenge to build a super-fast transportation system. According to the lawsuit, Pishevar saw it as a business opportunity and hired BamBrogan, who previously worked at Musk's SpaceX, to lead the company and offered him 6 percent of the company's shares at the start of their relationship together. Pishevar, the lawsuit claims, had 90 percent of the shares.
But that's just the start of what, the lawsuit claims, was a difficult relationship that ultimately culminated in improper deals with other companies and the aforementioned noose episode, which allegedly occurred last month. After a meeting the next day didn't go well, BamBrogran, among others, were either fired or left the company.
BamBrogan went so far as to seek a restraining order against Pishevar, according to the Times.
Hyperloop Technologies, however, told PCMag that the suit is "unfortunate and delusional."
"These employees tried to stage a coup and failed," said Orin Snyder, a partner at the company's law firm Gibson Dunn. "They knew that the company was aware of their actions, and this lawsuit is their preemptive strike. The claims are pure nonsense and will be met with a swift and potent legal response.
"Frivolous lawsuits like this one have become all too common against start-ups that achieve breakthrough success," he continued. "It is almost a cliche. It is also a measure of Hyperloop's success. The company continues to recruit top talent, secure significant funding from global investors and accelerate toward its technology milestones. Hyperloop is on track, its board and team are united and today's bogus lawsuit will have no impact on its goal of becoming the first company to bring the Hyperloop to the world."