The dramatic lawsuit between Hyperloop One’s founders just got a little dicier.
The leaders still in charge of the company — the defendants in the case — amended their complaint on Wednesday, alleging that the plaintiffs created a fake Twitter account attempting to disparage one of them, which was then retweeted by thousands of “fake pornographic” accounts.
The LA-based startup developing Elon Musk’s futuristic transportation system plans to have commercial hyperloop lines running by 2020.
If you haven’t been following updates on this heated case, here’s what you need to know to get up to speed:
Meet the plaintiffs
- Brogan BamBrogan, co-founder and former chief technology officer
- Knut Sauer, the company’s former president of business development
- David Pendergrast, the former assistant general counsel
- William Mulholland, the former vice president of finance
Meet the defendants
- Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and chairman
- Afshin Pishevar, Shervin’s brother and the company’s chief legal officer
- Joseph Lonsdale, vice-chairman
- Robert Lloyd, CEO
In the amended complaint, the defendants claim that the “Gang of Four,” as they call the plaintiffs, met in BamBrogan’s garage to launch a competing hyperloop company, illegally took Hyperloop One electronics filled with company information, and sought to “poach” employees for their new venture.
The amended complaint also claims that the “Gang” created a Twitter account to embarrass Shervin.
“The Gang’s fake Twitter account does not have a single follower,” the complaint reads. “The Gang has, nevertheless, caused its post to be retweeted exactly 5,000 times by similarly fake accounts, many of which are otherwise pornographic in nature.”
Justin T. Berger, attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement to Business Insider that the allegations in the amended complaint were false.
“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,” Berger said. “If these employees had wanted to form their own company, they simply would have left, rather than engaging in weeks of protracted negotiations in an attempt to put Hyperloop One back on track.”
The Twitter account in question does exist, and the tweet the amended complaint mentions is the only one it has:
The complaint also alleges that Shervin Pishevar gave a vendor a raise because they were dating, and that Afshin Pishevar even placed a noose on BamBrogan’s seat at work.
Their suit accuses the defendants of: violation of the California labor code, wrongful termination, breach of contract, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and breach of fiduciary duty.
The defendants, in their initial complaint, deny those charges, and allege that the “Gang of Four” was attempting to seize control of Hyperloop One, launch their own competing company when the coup failed, and that their lawsuit is an attempt to smear Hyperloop One.
Their answer also reads that the noose was actually a lasso that Pishevar placed next to BamBrogan’s trademark cowboy hat.
Their suit accuses the plaintiffs of a breach of confidential information agreement, breach of fiduciary duty, and violation of the California business and professions code, among other things.
May 26: Plaintiffs sent letter to defendants addressing their complaints, according to the initial suit.
June 5: Plaintiffs meet in BamBrogan’s garage, the amended defendants’ complaint alleges, to discuss their competing company, “Hyperloop Two” or “NewCo.”
June 15: Afshin Pishevar put the noose/lasso on BamBrogan’s chair.
June 16: BamBrogan, Mulholland, and Sauer resign/are fired.
July 12: Plaintiffs file suit.
July 19: Defendants reply with countersuit.
August 31: Defendants amend complaint with new information.