TECH

Hyperloop One row intensifies as startup files $250 million countersuit against co-founder

Former Hyperloop One CTO Brogan BamBrogan with the noose allegedly placed on his office chair (Image from lawsuit against Hyperloop One).

Former Hyperloop One CTO Brogan BamBrogan with the noose allegedly placed on his office chair (Image from lawsuit against Hyperloop One).

Futuristic transportation startup Hyperloop One has filed a $250 million countersuit against four former employees who alleged mismanagement, nepotism and threatening behavior at the high-tech firm.

A lawsuit filed earlier this month against Hyperloop One, its co-founder and Executive Chairman Shervin Pishevar, and three other company leaders claims that the “technological promise” of the system “is being strangled by the mismanagement and greed of the venture capitalists who control the company.” Former Hyperloop One CTO Brogan BamBrogan, who also co-founded the startup, is lead plaintiff in the suit for unspecified damages.

The countersuit by Hyperloop One, Shervin Pishevar, and the three company leaders is the latest twist in a high-profile row that has shone a spotlight on the power struggles that have rocked Hyperloop One. The startup plans to develop a new high-speed transportation system using electric propulsion, which was recently tested in the desert near Las Vegas.

The company’s countersuit against BamBrogan, Knut Sauer, David Pendergast and William Mulholland describes their lawsuit as a “sham complaint”. Court documents filed Tuesday describe the former employees as “the Gang of Four” and allege that they were planning to take over the company through a “coordinated coup”.

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“Today’s lawsuit demonstrates that these four defendants staged a failed coup to try to take over Hyperloop One and, failing that, conspired to steal our intellectual property and start their own company,” said Orin Snyder, a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn, who is representing Hyperloop One, in a statement emailed to FoxNews.com. “They engaged in gross misconduct in pursuit of their illegal plan”.

The suit against Hyperloop One alleges that one defendant, Afshin Pishevar, the company’s then chief legal officer, and brother of Shervin Pishevar, placed a hangman’s noose on BamBrogan’s office chair following a dispute over a business trip to Russia.

A purported surveillance camera image in the suit allegedly shows Afshin Pishevar approaching BamBrogan’s desk with a noose coiled in his hand.

In its countersuit, Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One claims that the incident has been misrepresented. “The Sham Complaint attempts to dramatize a workplace incident – a rope tied with a lasso knot, not a hangman’s knot, left on the desk where BamBrogan’s [sic] kept his trademark cowboy hat – into a story about a threatening ‘hangman’s noose' that is tabloid fodder and fiction”.

However, the countersuit acknowledges that leaving the rope was “ill-considered and in poor taste”, noting that Afshin Pishevar was terminated for the stunt.

Justin T. Berger, attorney for BamBrogan, Sauer, Pendergast and Mulholland, fired back at Hyperloop One Tuesday. “Hyperloop One’s cross complaint goes beyond revisionist history -- it's pure fiction, and that will be shown by the evidence,” he said, in a statement emailed to FoxNews.com. “Knowing their improper actions made them culpable, Defendants fabricated a story, put part of it out in a so-called statement and then expanded it in their court papers”.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers