A Delaware Court of Chancery judge on Monday denied Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney access to discovery materials from two investor lawsuits filed against Theranos Inc. and its directors, as he prepares a feature-length documentary about the embattled blood-testing company.
Gibney, who won an Oscar for the film “Taxi to the Dark Side,” had asked Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster in March for access to all video from depositions conducted in the cases, including recordings corresponding to about 200 pages of redacted testimony that Laster made public last year.
The records, Gibney said, remained of “vital public interest” and would be “invaluable” to his ability to tell Theranos’ story.
“If ever the presumption of openness should govern, it is here,” Gibney wrote in a four-page letter. “The records we are seeking are central to understanding the legal dispute—who did what and why; how systems and safeguards failed.”
Both cases, filed by Theranos investors Partner Investments, were settled in 2017, before any video was submitted to the court, and Laster refused to turn over video from the excerpts that had already been released.
“The transcript version of the testimony and the video version of the testimony are conceptually distinct,” Laster said in a nine-page memorandum opinion.
“Gibney seeks access to discovery materials that were never filed with the court. Under settled precedent, Gibney cannot access these materials.”
Gibney’s production company, Jigsaw Productions Inc., did not respond Monday to questions regarding Laster’s decision and the forthcoming project. In his letter to the court, Gibney said he was preparing a feature-length documentary for HBO Films.
A representative from Chelsea Pictures, which represents Gibney, said it only discusses the filmmaker’s commercial work and declined to comment beyond the scope of that arrangement.
Gibney said in court documents that he feared refusal to release the depositions in their entirety would allow Theranos to present a “one-sided” story that omits crucial details and context.
Theranos has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent years over its failure to successfully bring to market technology that it said would revolutionize blood testing by allowing a full battery of tests to be conducted off of just a few drops of blood taken from a patient’s finger. It was later learned that the company lacked the infrastructure to deliver on the promises, which garnered more than $400 million in funding by 2014.
Elizabeth Holmes, chief executive officer of Theranos Inc. Photo Credit: Krista Kennell/Shutterstock.com
Theranos and its CEO Elizabeth Holmes have agreed to settle the fraud charges filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Holmes has agreed to pay a $500,000 penalty, be barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years, return the remaining 18.9 million shares she obtained during the fraud, and relinquish her voting control of Theranos.
Gibney was not represented by an attorney in making his request. His other work includes the Oscar-nominated documentary ”Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” and “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” a 2015 film produced by HBO.
His film “Taxi to the Dark Side,” which centered on torture at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2008.