(Bloomberg) -- Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes may be the star of the documentary HBO is making about the unraveling of her once-superstar company, but that doesn’t mean she savors the spotlight.
Lawyers for the blood-testing startup were in court Wednesday trying to block Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney from getting access to videotapes of depositions in two lawsuits filed against Theranos by investors who claimed it was a massive fraud. But the judge sided with Gibney and ordered the company to work with his lawyer to figure out which excerpts of recordings will be released.
HBO has said the film will draw on “extraordinary access to never-before-seen footage and testimony from key insiders” to “tell a Silicon Valley tale that was too good to be true.”
Holmes became a media darling -- and was touted as the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire in 2014 -- when Theranos soared in value on the promise that it could test people for hundreds of diseases using just a pinprick of blood. But the company’s $9 billion valuation evaporated when its technology was discredited and it voided thousands of lab results. Holmes faces an ongoing criminal probe after agreeing to pay $500,000, without admitting wrongdoing, to resolve an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Gibney, whose credits include “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” may now be able to get ahold of at least portions of depositions of Holmes and former Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani that were set for this month in a suit in San Jose, California.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins said Wednesday he wants the two sides to work out what will remain confidential and what will become public so that Holmes and Balwani know before they are questioned by a lawyer for investors.
Depositions are conducted in private and recordings and transcripts of them often don’t become part of the public record, at least in full, unless there’s a trial.
The documentarian sought unsuccessfully in Delaware state court to get recordings of depositions from a suit there by investors who alleged they’d been hoodwinked into giving the company millions of dollars. That judge ruled in February that he couldn’t release the videos because they had never been filed with the court and the case had settled.
Lawyers for the investors in the California case were able to obtain the Delaware recordings during pretrial evidence gathering, and Gibney renewed his request for them, this time in San Jose.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys in San Jose have said they’d be happy to share the videos with Gibney but couldn’t because Theranos had designated them as confidential.
Gibney pursued the recordings in Delaware without a lawyer, arguing that the public has a right to see them. The lawyer representing him in San Jose had asked Cousins in a filing to reject the company’s blanket confidentiality designation on the grounds that Theranos was just trying to avoid embarrassment.
Lawyers for Theranos countered that the release of the videos could threaten individuals whose names are blacked out in court papers and taint the jury pool "with a one-sided narrative of the evidence.”
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