LOS ANGELES, OCT. 6 -- Eugene Hasenfus, the American mercenary who was shot down on a supply mission to U.S.-backed rebels in Nicaragua last year, has filed a $35 million lawsuit against his former employers, claiming they left him broke and alone to face mounting legal bills and a hostile public.

The suit, filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court, names Iran-contra figures Richard V. Secord and Albert A. Hakim and three corporations that Hasenfus says employed him with the government's backing to deliver arms to Nicaraguan contras.

Hasenfus said in his suit that he was induced to begin flying the dangerous missions based on representations that the company that hired him, Corporate Air Services, was run "right out the back door of the White House." The suit calls Secord and Hakim owners of Corporate Air.

Both the U.S. government, against which Hasenfus plans to file a separate claim, and Corporate Air have reneged on promises to pay tens of thousands of dollars in expenses Hasenfus and his family incurred during his three months in captivity in Nicaragua, the suit alleges.

"They're in terrible financial condition, they're about to lose their house, they're getting threats to their children at school," said Hasenfus' attorney, Brian R. Strange. "I think their lives are shattered."

Hasenfus, 46, of Marinette, Wis., was the lone survivor of a C123K transport shot down last October over southern Nicaragua while trying to drop arms to the rebels.