Theranos is now steeped in an avalanche of legal woes, including a suit filed Monday, July 19 by an ex-customer alleging the company’s faulty blood tests caused him to have a heart attack.
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Arizona, and first reported in Ars Technica, is now one of at least nine civil suits Theranos faces after an onslaught of investigations into the company’s technology.
The Arizona man known as R.C. to protect his privacy claims Theranos and its partner at the time Walgreens offered “false and misleading marketing around the Theranos tests and the accuracy of their test results prevented consumers from doing the right thing for themselves.”
R.C. is also suing Walgreens in the case and accuses the drugstore chain of “blindly” jumping in with Theranos.
Walgreens, which had formed a three-year partnership with Theranos, formally cut ties with the startup in June and shut down all 40 Theranos blood draw locations within Walgreens stores within Arizona; citing the myriad bad test results, the ongoing federal investigation and the criminal investigation into the blood analysis company.
Theranos claimed at the time its one-drop blood analysis could test for hundreds of diseases using its proprietary Edison machine, saying those tests were, “fast, easy, and the highest level of quality.”
The Arizona man says his doctor ordered him to get his sugar and blood lipid levels tested as part of routine heart monitoring. R.C. went to his local Walgreens store to get the tests, believing the pharmacy to be safe and reliable. The plaintiff says those tests came back normal and his doctor recommended he stick to what he was currently doing to stay healthy.
However, R.C. says less than a month later he suffered a heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. His cardiologists grew concerned the man would suffer a heart attack given his blood lipids came back normal just a month before.
“Additional blood work performed during his hospitalization strongly suggested that the near-contemporaneous Theranos blood test was inaccurate and that R.C. and his cardiologist’s reliance on the Theranos’ test results was potentially inaccurate or even harmful,” the lawsuit stated.
Those doubts were validated when Theranos later voided R.C.’s and tens of thousands of other test results from 2014 and 2015 in an effort to get into compliance with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Despite those efforts, U.S. regulators added harsh sanctions onto the startup earlier this month, including shutting down its Newark, California lab, and banning founder Elizabeth Holmes from running any labs for up to two years.
“Patient safety and clinical quality are our top priorities,” Theranos told TechCrunch in an email when asked about this case. “This matter involves ongoing litigation which will resolve itself in due course. In the meantime, we remain committed to the highest standards across all our labs and look forward to continuing to bring access to high-integrity, affordable health information to every person.”
Meanwhile, R.C. is seeking class-action status for his case, along with costs, restitution and damages, including punitive damages, in an amount to be determined at the trial.