A Los Angeles judge denied a request by recently ousted Hyperloop One co-founder Brogan BamBrogan for a restraining order against his former colleague and the company’s former chief legal officer, Afshin Pishevar.
BamBrogan, who abruptly left the futuristic transportation company that is the brainchild of Elon Musk, alleges that he was intimidated by Pishevar — who had placed a hangman’s noose on his chair, according to court documents.
The judge concluded that since Pishevar and BamBrogan no longer work together, Pishevar was not a threat.
“This is denied."
Pishevar’s attorney, David Willingham, argued the petition for a restraining order was filed to bolster allegations made in the subsequent lawsuit filed two days ago. However, BamBrogan filed the request June. 17.
Pishevar left the courthouse without speaking with reporters. His attorney declined further comment.
BamBrogan and his wife, Bambi, also departed without comment.
Update: Justin Berger, the San Francisco attorney representing BamBrogan, said after the hearing that the noose was symptomatic of larger problems at Hyperloop and how management responded when its former chief technology officer and 10 other employees raised concerns about the company.
“I think the message was pretty clear: It was a threat that said, ‘If you make waves, if you complain about illegal conduct occurring at the company, we’re going to retaliate against you and your safety is at risk,’” said Berger in an interview with reporters outside the downtown Los Angeles courthouse.
In remarks that appear to set the stage for BamBrogan’s civil suit, Berger said California labor law is designed to protect employees from retaliation for complaining about illegal conduct.
“We think a jury is going to take this issue seriously, and we think the company needs to start taking it a little more seriously,” Berger said. “It’s not just about a noose. It’s about a pattern and practice, layers upon layers of breaches of fiduciary duty, mismanagement, mistreatment of employees.”
Hyperloop One could not immediately be reached for comment.
Court documents depict a company riven with interpersonal conflict. In addition to seeking a temporary restraining order against Pishevar, BamBrogan and three other ex-employees are also suing the company, Pishevar’s brother and the company’s co-founder Shervin Pishevar, CEO Rob Lloyd and investor Joe Lonsdale for breach of contract, assault and wrongful termination.
BamBrogan filed the suit more than a month after he and 10 other employees wrote a letter that complained their work was "severely undervalued" and that Shervin Pishevar had "outsized control" over a company that he did not "fully understand."
The letter was addressed to Shervin Pishevar, Lloyd and Lonsdale. According to the suit, Shervin Pishevar "granted himself 90 percent of Hyperloop One’s common stock" and only gave BamBrogan 6 percent.
The company contends the suit is “delusional” and sources say Hyperloop One is expected to file a countersuit in the next few weeks.
The alleged noose — which BamBrogan is pictured holding in court documents — was a sign that concerns he raised privately with the company’s directors, as well as with a group of Russian investors, would not be addressed. Afshin Pishevar, who was seen on security footage carrying the noose, was immediately fired.
BamBrogan claims he was demoted from his position as the company’s chief technology officer, and that he ultimately elected to leave the high-flying venture because he feared for his safety. He was replaced by Josh Giegel, the former senior vice president of engineering who also signed the letter to the defendants, as a co-founder and president of engineering.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.