Theranos, the 13-year-old, Palo Alto-based health technology company, is being sued by two more investors who say they were lied to about Theranos’s health and its prospects by founder Elizabeth Holmes and former president and COO, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who was reportedly long one of the Holmes’s closest confidants.
The suit is the third that Theranos has been slapped with in recent months, following a $140 million lawsuit filed earlier this month by Walgreens, a former lab testing partner that’s now seeking the amount of money it invested in Theranos; and a separate suit filed by the San Francisco-based hedge fund Partner Fund Management, which told its backers that Theranos had fraudulently induced it to invest through a web of “lies, material misstatements, and omissions.”
One of the plaintiffs in the newest lawsuit, Hilary Taubman-Dye, is a longtime technical recruiter who now works in investor relations for a TV production company, shows LinkedIn. According to the lawsuit, she purchased Theranos shares on the secondary shares platform SharesPost at $19 per share in August 2015. The suit also describes Taubman-Dye’s failed efforts — along with those of others who’d used SharesPost to buy stock in the company — to cancel the transaction after the WSJ began publicly questioning its many claims.
The second plaintiff — Robert Colman — is known in some Silicon Valley circles for having cofounded the once-powerful Silicon Valley boutique investment bank Robertson Stephens.
In the suit, Colman says he invested in Theranos in 2013 through Lucas Venture Group, a venture firm founded by a second-generation VC named Donald Lucas whose other bets include the data analytics company Palantir. Indeed, according to the suit, Lucas “directly solicited” Colman’s investment in Theranos’s Series G round “at the invitation of Theranos and Holmes,” an invitation that was “purportedly a favor to Lucas,” whose father, also Donald Lucas, “originally funded Theranos and ‘mentored’ Holmes.”
The younger Lucas, it says, had represented himself to Colman as a strategic advisor to Theranos. His father, Donald Lucas, has been a self-employed venture capitalist since 1960. Now 86 years old, he was at one point the chairman of the board at Theranos. He was also a director on the boards of Oracle and Cadence Design Systems until 2013.
Colman has himself retired and now lives in Idaho.
The lawsuit seeks class action status for anyone who “directly or indirectly purchased or committed to purchase Theranos securities from July 29, 2013, through October 5, 2016.”
A San Francisco lawyer representing both Colman and Taubman-Dye tells the WSJ that there may several hundred plaintiffs who could be represented in such a case.
In a separate statement to TechCrunch, the attorney, Reed Kathrein of the Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman, writes that: “While Theranos is not traded on a stock exchange, investors who were solicited by venture capital and other funds, or who purchased indirect interests in Theranos securities through third-parties like SharePost, have all been damaged by these public representations.
He also suggested the scope of this newest suit could widen. “Fund managers are loathe to sue and forfeit access to start-ups which are their lifeblood. But California law gives us the ability to represent the ultimate investor who has suffered losses as a result of defendants’ publicity campaign. As our investigation continues, we will not be surprised to find others who were knowingly at fault.”
The entire filing can be found here.