3 lawyers defending Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes say they haven’t been paid in over a year and would like to quit

  • Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the disgraced blood testing startup Theranos, has been in and out of court since the company's inaccuracies and shortcomings were exposed in 2015.
  • Last week, the attorneys defending Holmes against a class-action suit filed a motion to withdraw from representing her because they haven't been paid in over a year, according to court documents.
  • The lawyers say that given Holmes' "current financial situation," they don't expect to ever get paid for their services, and it would be "unfair and unreasonable" for them to continue representing her.
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Three attorneys defending Elizabeth Holmes in federal court are trying quit the case because they say the Theranos founder, once valued at $4.5 billion, hasn't paid them in over a year. 

The lawyers, who work at the law firm Cooley LLP, have been representing Holmes against a federal class-action lawsuit brought on by former Theranos patients who allege their blood tests from the startup yielded inaccurate results and caused them to undergo unnecessary medical costs.

However, last week, the attorneys filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for Holmes. According to court documents, Holmes hasn't paid Cooley for its defense work "for more than a year." The law firm doesn't expect Holmes to "ever" pay it for services given her "current financial situations," documents say. The Mercury News first reported on the lawyers' motion to withdraw as counsel.

Read more: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes faces jail time for fraud charges. Her trial is set to begin in summer 2020.

The class-action suit was filed back in 2016 in Phoenix, where Theranos operated several blood-testing "wellness centers" out of Walgreens stores in the area. Holmes — as well as Walgreens and Theranos, who are also named as defendants — have all denied wrongdoing in the case. No trial date has been set.

The civil lawsuit in question is separate from the one involving criminal charges leveraged against Holmes that could potentially result in jail time. In that case, the Department of Justice has charged Holmes and Theranos' former president, Sunny Balwani, with multiple counts of fraud. The charges stem from allegations that Holmes and Balwani — who hid that they were romantically involved for much of the time they headed Theranos — schemed to defraud the startup's investors, as well as its doctors and patients, while knowing that its test results were inaccurate and unreliable.

The criminal case trial is set to begin in July 2020. Both Holmes and Balwani could face up to 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine plus restitution for each charge, the government has said.

The lawyers defending Holmes in the criminal case did not respond to Business Insider's questions about whether they've been paid for their representation.

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