Photo: TuSimple
Tu Simple Fleet

Mullen resigns from TuSimple amid investor lawsuit

Sept. 9, 2022
Jim Mullen previously served as acting head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and took on the job of TuSimple’s chief legal officer in September 2020.

Shortly after investors filed a lawsuit against TuSimple Holdings Inc. (TSP) for alleged securities fraud, Jim Mullen, chief legal and administrative officer, notified the company of his intent to resign, effective Sept. 30.

Susan Marsch will serve as interim general counsel until a permanent successor is appointed, according to the SEC filing. Marsch has more than 25 years of experience working with a variety of multinational companies in industries that include technology, manufacturing, mobile devices, and telecommunications.

“After two amazing years at TuSimple, I have made the difficult decision to leave the company at the end of September,” Mullen said via LinkedIn on Sept. 7. “I am excited to start the next chapter in my professional career, but will miss working with so many talented and dedicated professionals at TSP. It was an honor to be part of a team that accomplished so much.”

See also: Waymo to test autonomous Cascadia on public roadways

“The benefits of autonomous trucks are numerous, and they will help improve the supply chain," he added. "It has been a great ride, and more to come on what’s next.”

Mullen, who previously served as acting head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, took on the job of TuSimple’s chief legal officer in September 2020. In his role, Mullen was responsible for overseeing legal affairs, risk management strategy, and helping the autonomous truck company develop its safety approach.

TuSimple and several top executives and directors, including Mullen, are listed in class action lawsuit captioned Dicker v. TuSimple Holdings Inc., No. 22-cv-01300. The lawsuit alleges TuSimple made materially false or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose, among other things, that:

  • TuSimple's commitment to safety was significantly overstated and it concealed fundamental problems with TuSimple's technology.
  • TuSimple was rushing the testing of its autonomous driving technology to deliver driverless trucks to the market ahead of its more safety-conscious competitors.
  • There was a corporate culture within TuSimple that suppressed or ignored safety concerns in favor of unrealistically ambitious testing and delivery schedules, making accidents involving TuSimple's autonomous driving technology more likely.
  • This conduct invited enhanced regulatory scrutiny and investigatory action toward TuSimple.

On Aug. 1, The Wall Street Journal published an article that shed light on a number of previously undisclosed concerns that undermined TuSimple's representations and omissions concerning the company's safety. For example, referencing an April 6 accident involving a truck fitted with TuSimple's autonomous driving technology, the article revealed that "the accident, which regulators disclosed to the public in June after TuSimple filed a report on the incident, underscores concerns that the autonomous-trucking company is risking safety on public roads in a rush to deliver driverless trucks to market, according to independent analysts and more than a dozen of TuSimple's former employees."

See also: Oklahoma carrier to implement autonomous vehicles

The aftermath of that article: TuSimple's share price fell by nearly 10%, damaging investors.

In connection with Mullen’s resignation, a separation and release agreement waives TuSimple's rights to require the repayment of a $500,000 retention bonus previously granted to Mullen. In addition, TuSimple will provide Mullen with 12 months of base salary continuation, up to 12 months of subsidized COBRA coverage, and an additional 12 months of vesting of his outstanding equity awards. 

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