Mar 23, 2023
Elizabeth Holmes Trial Witness Says Hulu Defamed Him in ‘The Dropout’
(Bloomberg) -- A former Theranos Inc. lab director who testified against Elizabeth Holmes at her criminal fraud trial sued Walt Disney Co., 20th Century Studios, Hulu and other producers of The Dropout, arguing the series has had a devastating effect on his reputation and status as a physician.
Adam Rosendorff claims a character in the show about the downfall of the blood-testing startup is based on him and depicts him engaging in unethical behavior.
The character, Mark Roessler, is portrayed “directing other employees to destroy testing results damaging to Theranos, to falsify other records and to engage in other unethical conduct unworthy of a physician,” according to the complaint filed Thursday in New York state court. “The character is portrayed and shown as covering up Theranos’s fraudulent scheme, thereby endangering patients’ lives,” and as “otherwise unfit to practice medicine,” according to the complaint.
Read More: Holmes Witness Stands by Testimony After Visit to Her Home
Rosendorff was a key but controversial witness for the government against Holmes, who is due to report to prison next month. As a former lab director, he offered first-hand, inside information that led to her conviction. Months after the trial, Rosendorff tried to visit Holmes at her home, an unusual development that her lawyers seized on, ultimately unsuccessfully, in a bid to undo the jury verdict. He was also the most important source for “Bad Blood,” the best-selling book about Theranos.
Rosendorff’s case joins a pile of other defamation lawsuits in recent years brought by people who claim they were wrongly portrayed by Hollywood producers in true-crime and other non-fiction series. Netflix, in particular, has been sued at least half a dozen times — including over ‘Inventing Anna’ and ‘Queen’s Gambit’ — but the company got some cases thrown out and other complaints were dropped.
In his lawsuit, Rosendorff says people who know him and media reports have said the Roessler character in the The Dropout is based on him. Producers of the show knew or should have known that at the real-life trial Rosendorff was a “heroic whistle-blower, a witness who was instrumental in the jury’s verdict convicting Holmes,” according to the suit. “Now he has been falsely portrayed as a perjurer, a criminal, and of being completely unfit to practice his profession.”
Disney representatives didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Last week, Holmes made what was likely her last appearance before the judge in San Jose, California, who presided over her four-month trial in 2021 and sentenced her in November to serve 11 1/4 years of incarceration for deceiving investors in Theranos.
--With assistance from Chris Dolmetsch.
(Updates with lab director’s background in fourth paragraph)
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