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Comic-Con ‘Super Yacht’ Owners Accuse Marijuana Mogul of Slander, Fraud

Nine months after a marijuana mogul’s rented “super yacht” vanished from a marina during Comic-Con, court filings reveal who took it — and why.

Lake Rickolt, a longtime San Diego boat captain, is being sued over rental of yacht Liquidity during Comic-Con.
Lake Rickolt, a longtime San Diego boat captain, is being sued over rental of yacht Liquidity during Comic-Con. Photo via Facebook

Capt. Lake Rickolt and his wife, Gemma, were sued in January by BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin over removal of the party boat and financial losses.

But now the Rickolts say in a countersuit that the dock master of Fifth Avenue Landing ordered the boat out by 10 a.m. July 22, 2017 — the Saturday of the San Diego Convention Center mega-event.

According to the countersuit, filed April 26 in San Diego Superior Court, McLaughlin and his team violated marina rules on alcohol, drugs and parties.

“Moreover, [the Rickolts] and the yacht crew felt threatened for their safety and the safety of the yacht,” the suit said of the 125-foot Liquidity, which had a three-day rental cost of $42,250.

Attorneys Brandon Saxon and Peter “PJ” Lucca Jr. are suing McLaughlin on behalf of the Rickolts, who did business as Sol Luna Expeditions and San Diego Marine Services.

Rickolts' countersuit against Brad McLaughlin and BudTrader.com.
Rickolts’ countersuit against Brad McLaughlin and BudTrader.com. (PDF)

McLaughlin and the staff of BudTrader — called the “Craigslist of weed” — are accused of defamation, slander, fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and causing severe emotional distress.

The Rickolts haven’t put a price tag on their injuries, but are seeking special and punitive damages along with attorney and court costs. A jury trial is demanded.

McLaughlin — who lives in Los Angeles County but does business from an Encinitas office — hasn’t responded formally to the countersuit, but his lawyers aren’t taking it lightly.

“The entire cross-complaint is merit-less and not supported by any facts,” attorneys Matthew Blair and Oscar Ramirez said last week via email. “We will be making a motion to dismiss it and then proceed with filing another lawsuit for malicious prosecution.”

The 15-page countersuit — filed the same day that the Rickolts responded to the original January complaint — makes a variety of claims:

  • That McLaughlin lied at first to the Rickolts about having a booth at Comic-Con.
  • That McLaughlin “intentionally and wrongfully made slanderous and disparaging comments to various individuals, media outlets, reporters, editors, and/or trade magazines … as an intentional publicity stunt … with the purpose of specifically causing damage” to the Rickolts.
  • And that the Rickolts suffered severe emotional distress.

Specifically, the countersuit says Gemma Rickolt boarded the yacht about 4:38 p.m. July 20 and observed McLaughlin “intoxicated as he seemed overly sweaty; he struggled to make eye contact and seemed on edge.”

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Ken Stone on Times of San Diego

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Published: May 16, 2018

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