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Judge denies restraining order over noose incident at HyperLoop start-up

At left, according to a lawsuit, a screen grab from security camera footage shows Afshin Pishevar, then general counsel at Hyperloop One, holding a noose. At right, Brogan BamBrogan holds the rope after discovering it hours later.
At left, according to a lawsuit, a screen grab from security camera footage shows Afshin Pishevar, then general counsel at Hyperloop One, holding a noose. At right, Brogan BamBrogan holds the rope after discovering it hours later.
(Los Angeles County Superior Court)

A judge refused to grant Hyperloop Technologies Inc. co-founder Brogan BamBrogan a temporary restraining order Thursday against a former co-worker who allegedly threatened him with a noose.

The decision in Los Angeles County Superior Court wasn’t a surprise to BamBrogan’s lawyers. In the month since the incident, BamBrogan resigned from the Los Angeles transportation start-up, and his adversary, Afshin Pishevar, was fired. 

As they were no longer co-workers, and with no pattern of threatening conduct, there wasn’t a need to restrain Pishevar, Judge Carol Goodson said.

But the legal showdown between BamBrogan, Pishevar and their former employer appears far from over. Earlier this week, BamBrogan and other former colleagues sued the company, Pishevar and two of its most powerful investors, including Pishevar’s brother Shervin. The plaintiffs say they were driven out after speaking out about nepotism and financial mismanagement.

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Among the methods allegedly used to intimidate the eventual plaintiffs was the noose, left on BamBrogan’s desk overnight by Afshin Pishevar, according to security camera footage shown in court records.

“It was a manifestation of deeper problems at the company,” said Justin Berger, an attorney for BamBrogan. “But the message is pretty clear: If you make waves, we’re going to retaliate against you.”

People close to the company described the rope as a lasso. But Berger said the office wasn’t a “cattle ranch or a dude ranch,” the company wasn’t building a “rope-pulled” transportation system and the slip was just big enough for a man’s head.

“This was a threat. That’s clear. Anyone who receives this would feel the same,” Berger said.

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Afshin Pishevar’s attorney, David Willingham, declined to comment. 

Hyperloop One, as the company now refers to itself, is seeking to develop a system involving high-speed pods and low-pressure tubes to move people and freight at near the speed of sound, turning a journey of 400 miles into a 30-minute experience. The firm has raised nearly $100 million from investors, valuing it at $239 million, according to research firm PitchBook.

paresh.dave@latimes.com

Twitter: @peard33


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