Things are heating up in the case of an online “marijuana mogul” and M/Y Liquidity. In July 2017, BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin paid $42,250 to rent the 125-foot M/Y Liquidity for three days during San Diego’s Comic-Con, the Times of San Diego reports.
The lawsuit alleges that the vessel disappeared off the dock at Fifth Avenue Landing next to San Diego’s Convention Center on the third day of the rental, the Saturday of the convention.
McLaughlin is suing San Diego Marine Services and parent rental company Sol Luna Expeditions — Capt. Lake Rickolt and his wife, Gemma — for breach of contract, false advertising, and fraud, the paper writes. According to the Times, when McLaughlin arrived at the vessel’s location on day three, it was missing, and he discovered some of BudTrader’s property sitting on the dock. The suit claims that the vessel had been moved without notice and was in breach of the charter agreement.
McLaughlin told the Times of San Diego that the day’s loss had cost him about $100,000. According to the lawsuit, McLaughlin was still required to honor the charter agreement for all three days’ expenses in addition to those costs arising from canceling vendors, caterers, models, security, etc. plus refunding sponsorship fees for the final day. The suit also alleges that the agreement maintained that the boat would be moved only in case of bad weather.
The Rickolts have now countersued McLaughlin, claiming that the dockmaster at Fifth Avenue Landing ordered the boat out by 10 a.m. on July 22, 2017 — day three of the rental agreement. The Rickolts are also alleging that McLaughlin and BudTrader violated marina rules on drugs, alcohol, and parties and that the captain and crew felt threatened by the guests. BudTrader is being accused of “defamation, slander, fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and causing severe emotional distress,” the Times wrote. The countersuit alleges that McLaughlin and others were witnessed being drunk on board and that Gemma Rickolt was “aggressively confronted” by a BudTrader associate when she came aboard. It also states that BudTrader was freely passing joints to the public and bringing people on board to smoke marijuana and ingest edibles, despite being told marijuana was prohibited on board. The lawsuit states that they were told the vessel was hired to host investor meetings during Comic-Con, and would not encourage people to “hang out.”
The Rickholts are requesting a jury trial.