TuSimple Chief Legal and Administrative Officer Jim Mullen has notified the company of his intent to resign from his position at month's end. Mullen is a former Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, having served the post in an interim capacity from October 2019 to August 2020. The following month he joined TuSimple.
"I am excited to start the next chapter in my professional career, but will miss working with so many talented and dedicated professionals at [TuSimple]," a message posted to Mullen's LinkedIn account Wednesday read. "It was an honor to be part of a team that accomplished so much. I need to thank our commercial partners who have been so supportive of [TuSimple]’s efforts. The benefits of autonomous trucks are numerous, and they will help improve the supply chain. It has been a great ride, and more to come on what’s next."
Mullen's departure comes at an arduous time for the autonomous truck startup as multiple stakeholder rights law firms have announced that a class action lawsuit has been filed against autonomous trucking tech firm TuSimple Holdings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
The lawsuit was initially filed by TuSimple shareholder Austin Dicker on Aug. 31 on behalf of anyone who purchased or acquired TuSimple stock between April 15, 2021, and Aug. 1, 2022.
Dicker claims that an Aug. 1, 2022, article by The Wall Street Journal detailing information about an April crash involving a TuSimple truck brought to light issues with the company’s autonomous trucking technology.
TuSimple has not responded to CCJ inquiries about the lawsuit as of midday Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal article said that the accident “underscores concerns that the autonomous-trucking company is risking safety on public roads in a rush to deliver driverless trucks to market.” Although TuSimple said the accident was the result of human error, the Journal report said that “it was the autonomous-driving system that turned the wheel, and that blaming the entire accident on human error is misleading.”
After the article was released, the lawsuit claims that shares of TuSimple fell 97 cents, or 9.7%, during intraday trading to close at $8.99 per share on Aug. 1.
According to the complaint, TuSimple allegedly made false and misleading statements to the market, overstated its commitment to safety and concealed significant problems with its technology. The lawsuit also alleges that TuSimple rushed testing of its autonomous driving tech to beat its competitors to market and that the company fostered a corporate culture that ignored safety in favor of ambitious delivery schedules, making “accidents involving the company’s autonomous driving technology more likely,” the lawsuit adds.
By the time the lawsuit was filed on Aug. 31, TuSimple shares traded as low as $7.05 per share – a decline of more than 82% from the $40 initial public offering price in April 2021. TuSimple shares opened at $7.14 per share on Sept. 7.
The lawsuit claims that “as a result of [TuSimple’s] wrongful acts and omissions, and the precipitous declines in the market value” of the company’s stock, TuSimple shareholders “have suffered significant losses and damages.”
Investors have until Oct. 31 to register to join the class action suit.