Missing sub CEO sued for fraud in Florida after canceling several expeditions for safety concerns

The founder of the company behind the submersible missing in the North Atlantic Ocean was sued for fraud, according to court documents.

Founder and CEO of OceanGate Stockton Rush is among those on board the sub, along with four other people.

According to court documents, Rush was sued in Feb. 2023 for failing to give a refund to a couple who had purchased an expedition to the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 2016.

The Hagles allege they paid Rush nearly a half million dollars, only to have their expedition aboard the Titan canceled several times due to safety concerns and equipment failure.

Around Nov. 28, 2016, Marc and Sharon Hagle said they signed a contract with OceanGate to participate in a trip to view the wreckage of the Titanic, each paying a deposit of $10,000, for a trip in June 2018.

According to the Hagles’, the contract they signed included two additional payments.

One, was a $40,000 payment that was supposed to be paid after the first dive of Cyclops 2, which was expected to be Oct. 2017. The second $55,129 payment was due about four months before the estimated date of their trip.

Midway through 2017, the Hagles did not receive any updates from Rush and suspected Cyclops 2 was not going to be ready for its first dive, so they considered a refund.

In Sept. 2017, Rush traveled to the Hagles’ home to convince them to keep investing in the trip. According to the Hagles, Rush went into more detail about the planned trip, adding the Cyclops 2 would be ready to launch and they could still receive a refund at any time.

In Jan. 2018, the Halges said they received new contracts that said they would have to pay the full sum for the trip, and not the staggered payment schedule in their original contracts.

The Hagles said based on their meeting with Rush in September, that they signed the new contracts and in Feb. 2018, wired $190,258 to OceanGate.

About a month later, OceanGate renamed Cyclops 2 to Titan, which is the same submersible lost in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The Hagles said OceanGate canceled their planned June 2018 aboard the Titan because OceanGate did not have enough time to conduct a full series of tests and dives to be sure the vessel could reach the Titanic and rescheduled their trip for July 2019.

However, in June 2019, according to the Hagles, OceanGate canceled their trip again, saying its “contracted support vessel refused to participate.” The trip was rescheduled again for sometime in 2020.

The Hagles then asked for a refund from Rush for all the money they had paid, which totaled $210,258.

According to court documents, Rush began working on a “full refund plan.”

On June 19, 2019, the Hagles received another cancellation notice saying the Titan was experiencing “equipment failure.” The trip was rescheduled again for July 2020.

On Oct. 24, 2019, the July 2020 was canceled due to unspecified reasons.

Finally, in July 2021, OceanGate demanded the Hagles go on a July 2021 trip aboard the Titan to the Titanic. According to the Hagles, when they refused, OceanGate told them they would not be getting a refund.

The Hagles are asking for damages, attorney fees and court costs.