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San Diego Comic-Con yacht dispute still making waves

Nine months ago, a rented “super yacht” disappeared during San Diego Comic-Con. Marijuana mogul BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin paid $42,250 for the three-day rental to use the boat as a lure for celebrities and potential investors. So when the vessel disappeared, the 33-year-old executive sued the business that rented the boat and company owner, Lake Rickolt.

As is often the case in business litigation, the other side has filed a counterclaim. Rickolt and wife Gemma state in their lawsuit that the dock master ordered their boat out on the Saturday of the event after McLaughlin and his associates violated marina rules on drugs, alcohol and parties.

The counterclaim filed in San Diego Superior Court says that the Rickolts and their “crew felt threatened for their safety” and the well-being of the 125-foot yacht Liquidity. The BudTrader CEO is accused of fraud, defamation, slander, causing severe emotional distress and more.

His attorneys said in an email to the Times Of San Diego that they will make a motion to dismiss the countersuit “and then proceed with filing another lawsuit for malicious prosecution.”

In the countersuit, Gemma Rickolt says she boarded the boat just after 4:30 in the afternoon and found McLaughlin intoxicated. She said she could see marijuana and marijuana edibles “strewn throughout the yacht, all in violation of federal and state law regarding including state open container laws regarding marijuana on vessels.”

McLaughlin told the Times that he denies that allegation and others made in the suit. He said he hasn’t “had a sip of alcohol in 10 years” and that the other claims in filed in court are similarly inaccurate.

We do not know how the original lawsuit or the countersuit will be resolved, but we do know that when businesses find themselves embroiled in a dispute, it makes sense to discuss matters with a business law attorney experienced in crafting cost-effective, favorable resolutions.