The parents of a man who died thinking that he lost more than $730,000 in stock deals are suing the Robinhood app over his suicide. According to PEOPLE, In June 2020, 20-year-old Alex Kerns took his own life because he believed that he had fallen deeply into debt after making some risky trades through Robinhood, an app-based stock trading company for amateur investors. Court documents obtained by the outlet state that Kerns attempted to contact the company, but when he received no help and ultimately died by suicide. "He thought he blew up his life. He thought he screwed up beyond repair," Alex's father, Dan Kearns, said in an interview with CBS This Morning.
In a message to Robinhood, as revealed in the court documents, Kerns wrote to the company, "I was incorrectly assigned more money than I should have, my bought puts should have covered the puts I sold. Could someone please look into this?" The suit claims that all he received back was an auto-generated email saying the support team would contact him "as soon as possible, but that our response time to you may be delayed." After not getting any response about his specific issue, Kerns took his own life, and it was later discovered that he did not owe any money at all, nor had he gone into stock debt.
We found the customer service problems that Alex Kearns’ family blame for his death have been putting Robinhood users at risk for years. https://t.co/8UQ7x2HLQj— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 9, 2021
Kerns was also sent a second automated email, which read, "Great news! We're reaching out to confirm that you've met your margin call and we've lifted your trade restrictions. If you have any questions about your margin call, please feel free to reach out. We're happy to help!" In response, Kerns' father said, "It haunts me. It really does."
"I lost the love of my life. I miss him more than anything," Alex's mother, Dorothy Kearns, added. "I can't tell you how incredibly painful it is. It's the kind of pain that I don't think should be humanly possible for a parent to overcome."
The lawsuit the grieving parents filed alleges that Robinhood uses "aggressive tactics and strategy to lure inexperienced and unsophisticated investors" — including their son. Notably, this is not the only controversy Robinhood has found itself at the center of lately. The company is also facing a class-action lawsuit that was filed in response to Robinhood's halting of stock trading for users of its app-based platform but not for larger companies and hedge funds.