A Florida couple, Marc and Sharon Hagle, stated that OceanGate Expeditions’ founder had taken them on a very different kind of ride just months before the company’s submersible remained silent during a trip to the Titanic wreck.

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Who are Marc Hagle, Sharon Hagle?

Marc and Sharon Hagle are a married couple. The two are civilian astronauts and entrepreneurs.

Marc graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering in 1971 and a master’s in business and industrial administration in 1972. He is one of Central Florida’s most successful real estate developers and the CEO of Tricor International LLC.

Marc and Sharon Hagle are the primary contributors to Marc and Sharon Hagle Hall, the new home for Purdue Bands and Orchestras on the West Lafayette campus. It’s set to launch later this year.

In order to promote space awareness among schoolchildren, particularly young girls, Sharon launched SpaceKids Global (SKG) in 2015. The couple is working with Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s STEM-focused nonprofit, on the organization’s “Postcards to Space” initiative to involve elementary school students in STEAM+ (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics, and environment) activities that may inspire careers in technology and space exploration.

Sharon Hagle launched SpaceKids Global in 2015 to encourage STEAM+ education, with a focus on empowering young girls. SpaceKids Global is on a mission to prepare every child for the space age.

Marc and Sharon sued OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush months before the Titan submersible went missing on June 18, 2023 carrying 5 people.

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Rush is reportedly one of the five people on board the missing ship, according to Reuters.

The central event in the Hagles’ lawsuit is a meeting that took place in September 2017. The Winter Park, Florida couple claims that Rush came to their house with the intention of thawing their increasingly chilly feet about the endeavor.

The suit read, “during their September 27, 2017 meeting, Rush made several false statements of material fact to Plaintiffs, including, without limitation: (a) regarding the status of development and testing of Cyclops 2 as of that date, (b) that Cyclops 2 would be ready to dive on the Titanic by June of 2018. (c) if plaintiffs had any questions or concerns as to the integrity of Cyclops 2 and/or the timing of the expedition if it were to be delayed, they could request, and would receive, a full refund of all monies paid with no questions asked, and (d) plaintiffs’ deposits were, and any future payments by plaintiffs would be, held in a dedicated client escrow account separate from his or OceanGate’s funds.”

In actuality, the lawsuit claims, the date of their voyage was delayed by one, two, and finally three years because the rechristened submersible required additional testing and experienced an undefined “equipment failure.” The Hagles further assert that OceanGate did not keep their money in a separate account where they could get it in the event that OceanGate missed their deadlines. Finally, the business allegedly informed the two that they may take part in a 2021 trip to the Titanic’s buried hull but would not be eligible for a refund.

The Hagles claimed that Rush broke state laws against fraud and unfair and misleading business practices. They requested their money returned as well as compensation for their suffering in the form of attorneys’ fees and other costs.

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“Given the willful, wanton, and egregious nature of Rush’s conduct,” the complaint adds, “plaintiffs reserve the right to seek punitive damages herein.”

When reached by phone, Marc Hagle declined to comment on the litigation or whether the events of the last few days had impacted his opinion of his time with OceanGate.

“My thoughts are with the Oceangate owners, the people on the submersible, both the crew and the guests.” And we’re hoping for a miracle and for everyone’s safe return,” he continued. “I think the pleadings speak for themselves.”

According to public records, there has been no activity on the Hagles’ lawsuit since it was filed in February. In a statement to The Daily Beast, OceanGate did not address the Hagles’ claims or any aspect of the litigation.

“Our entire focus is on the wellbeing of the crew, and every possible step is being taken to bring the five crew members back safely,” a representative told The Daily Beast.