SAN JOSE, CALIF – In the first dramatic confrontation in Elizabeth Holmes’ trial, defense attorney Lance Wade aggressively questioned the company’s former lab director about his credibility.
“Did you come up with any lab tests that you knew at the time to be inaccurate or unreliable? Wade asked Adam Rosendorff in the courtroom Thursday.
“No, I ordered the lab to stop testing and raised my concerns with management,” Rosendorff replied.
“And Mrs. Holmes never told you to report an inaccurate result, did she?” Wade asked, to which Rosendorff agreed.
Wade, raising his voice, also repeatedly asked Rosendorff if his testimony was written with federal prosecutors and agents during the several meetings they had.
Rosendorff worked at Theranos from 2013 to 2014. He said he initially believed the company would become “the next Apple”. Rosendorff said he applied to work there after reading a bio on Apple founder Steve Jobs.
“All the excitement around Steve Jobs was very compelling to me,” Rosendorff said. “I wanted to have a more holistic impact on healthcare and thought joining a diagnostics company would help me do that.”
Wade held up Walter Isaacson’s biography on Jobs, which Rosendorff said he had read. Wade asked him why he was surprised by Theranos’ intense secrecy and PR.
“You knew that one of the things that was important to Apple and its success was very effective public relations and marketing, didn’t you? Wade asked. “My personal opinion was that it was Apple’s understanding of people’s day-to-day needs and tailoring its technology to meet their needs,” Rosendorff said.
Wade also asked Rosendorff if he recalled “the book the intense secrecy Mr. Jobs imposed on R&D projects” at Apple, such as examining new technologies in a password-protected room.
“Now is not the time for a book report,” interrupted US District Court Judge Edward Davila.
The fiery cross-examination followed newly unsealed documents that reveal notes from federal agents who questioned two Theranos insiders about Holmes’ relationship with his top executive and romantic partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.
Nicole Canas, receptionist and administrator at Theranos from 2010 to 2011, told investigators last year that Holmes and Balwani “worked as a unit. Theranos was about what Holmes and Balwani wanted.”
“The interactions between Holmes and Balwani were those of equals,” the interview notes said. “Canas didn’t remember Holmes and Balwani contradicting each other.”
Perhaps part of Holmes’ defense is claiming that she was under Balwani’s control. As revealed in previously unsealed documents, Holmes can testify that Balwani controlled and manipulated her. Balwani denies the allegations.
Interview notes from Paige Williams, Holmes’ former personal assistant from 2015 to 2018, reveal a similar view of their relationship.
“Williams didn’t see any screams between Balwani and Holmes,” according to the interview. “Williams saw no cruel behavior, whether verbal or physical, between Balwani and Holmes. Balwani seemed to have great admiration for Holmes.”
Federal agents wrote that Williams “didn’t see any arguments at the residence either. On the contrary, Williams described the residence” much more relaxed “than the office.” Interview notes indicated that Holmes and Balwani wanted to “create a relaxed and zen atmosphere in their home…”
Williams recalled Valentine’s Day in 2014, when Holmes and Balwani asked Williams to buy and surprise the other with flowers in the house they shared. “Holmes asked Williams to buy a Hermes Apple watch band for Balwani,” the notes say. Williams told federal agents that Balwani often bought Holmes flowers for birthdays and anniversaries.
Holmes and Balwani face a dozen counts of fraud and criminal conspiracy. Their blood testing startup, Theranos, collapsed in 2018 following a Wall Street Journal investigation that found inaccuracy issues with blood tests and questionable business practices.
Williams said that when she started Theranos “Holmes traveled on charter planes. But” after the Wall Street Journal article there was a shift to commercial planes. “
Rosendorff’s cross-examination continues on Wednesday.