Blac Chyna v. The Kardashians Is Officially Underway

Photo: Mona Shafer Edwards / BACKGRID

Blac Chyna’s $100 million defamation claims against the Kardashian family, accusing them of killing her reality show Rob & Chyna, will finally be presented to a Los Angeles jury this week.

The planned ten-day trial comes five years after Chyna filed her lawsuit against the Kardashian-Jenners. With Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Rob Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner, as well as Chyna and Ryan Seacrest, on the witness list, the testimony in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom is expected to be explosive.

Chyna (real name Angela White), 33, filed the $100 million defamation case in 2017 and alleged in court papers that Rob was “an abuser” intent on destroying her after she left him. Chyna said that “in revenge, the Kardashian-Jenner family became a media predator, slut-shaming her on social media and killing her hit television show, which had already begun filming a second season,” according to her complaint. The Kardashians have since ended their relationship with the E! Network, with the last episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians airing in June 2021, and transitioned to a new reality series on Hulu called The Kardashians, which debuted last week. Here’s how the trial’s main characters got here.

Let’s start with Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna: What’s their history again?

Rob and Chyna began a romantic relationship in January 2016 and got engaged three months later. In June, E! green-lit the couple’s reality show Rob & Chyna, ordering six hour-long episodes as well as a special featuring the couple’s daughter, Dream, according to Chyna’s court papers. Dream was born in November 2016. (Chyna already had a son, King Cairo, now 9, with her ex Tyga, who was then dating Kylie.) A month after Dream was born, Rob announced on social media that the couple had split, saying “Chyna left me.” Rob then posted a series of naked pictures of Chyna, accusing her of being unfaithful on Instagram and Twitter. In July 2017, Chyna filed for a restraining order against Rob, asking the judge to order him to stay away from her and to stop him from cyberbullying her and posting or distributing private, intimate, or sexually explicit photos of her.

Three months later, Chyna sued Rob and his whole family. In her lawsuit, she claimed that Rob & Chyna had “stellar ratings” and that she was told E! was moving forward with a second season even though the couple broke up. She was later informed that E! would not be renewing the show. In her court papers, she accused the Kardashians of intentionally interfering with E!’s decision to sign the show for a second season by contacting network executives and demanding they not proceed with it.

Chyna, accusing the family of conspiring to kill the continuation of the reality show, pointed in her court papers to one episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians in which the family meets to discuss whether Rob & Chyna should continue to be filmed. She accused the family of defaming her in the press and damaging her reputation.

Chyna alleged that after she obtained a restraining order, Rob and Kylie retaliated by filing their own lawsuit against her, accusing her of assault, battery, and trying to extort the family for money. (That lawsuit was dismissed in February.) Chyna has a separate revenge-porn case against Rob, Kim, Khloé, Kylie, and Kris that she filed in October 2017 and is set to go to trial May 2, accusing Rob of posting her private nude photos on his Instagram account to his 9 million followers without her consent, which caused her to suffer mental pain and suffering, humiliation, and emotional distress. Rob, in court papers, denied that he posted the images without Chyna’s consent and that they caused her mental pain and suffering, humiliation, and emotional distress.

So how did the Kardashian family respond to these lawsuits and claims?

The Kardashians responded in court papers in 2020 that Chyna’s claims that they defamed her and intentionally interfered with her contract were based on the unfounded contention that they “lied to E! when they communicated their concern for the safety and wellbeing of the defendant because Chyna violently attacked him.” They assert that it was “indisputable that Chyna did attack Rob” and that they were deeply concerned for his safety and well being.

“During an alcohol and drug fueled rampage, Chyna violently attacked Rob, strangled Rob with an iPhone charging cord, repeatedly struck him with her fists and a metal rod and threw a chair at Rob’s car as he drove off to escape her attack,” according to their court papers.

They accuse Chyna of breaking down a door and say Kris’s boyfriend, Corey Gamble, had to pull her off Rob. They claim that after Chyna obtained a restraining order against Rob, it “prohibited her from having any contact with Rob, making it physically impossible for her to perform in the series.”

“No couple = no show”: According to the court papers, that was the testimony from E! and Bunim-Murray Productions witnesses.

The Kardashians also state in court papers that Chyna’s talent agreement granted E! only “the option and not the obligation” to engage Chyna for additional seasons at the time of their “alleged tortious conduct” and that E! had not exercised written notice to engage Chyna for a second season. They maintain they can’t be held liable for making true statements and statements based on their opinions.

Who is expected to testify in court?

A lot of familiar faces and a few executives from E! More potential witnesses are expected to be called:

Blac Chyna
Kris Jenner
Kylie Jenner
Khloé Kardashian
Kim Kardashian
Rob Kardashian
Corey Gamble
Ryan Seacrest (executive producer of Rob & Chyna)
Adam Stotsky (president of E!)
Ashuanna Ayers (Chyna’s former agent)
Frances Berwick (vice-president at NBCUniversal)
Damla Dogan (former vice-president at E!)
Demondre Edwards (former director of business and legal affairs at E!)
Farnaz Farjam (vice-president at Bunim Murray Productions)

Where do things stand now?

On April 2, Blac Chyna posted a statement on Twitter that she was “planning to re-focus” to her attention on Kris, Kim, Khloé, and Kylie to “stand up for my legal rights and to be an example to my kids that ‘what’s right is right, what’s wrong is wrong.’ And what they did was so wrong.”

She said in the statement that she was thankful a jury will be able to hear “what really happened behind closed doors — the lies that were told and the damage that was done.”

Chyna’s statement foreshadowed a hostile courtroom. In opening statements on April 19, Blac Chyna’s attorney, Lynne Ciani, said the Kardashian family conspired to cancel Rob & Chyna by telling E! Network executives to do so. The Kardashian’s attorney, Michael Rhodes, countered those claims by stating Chyna had violently attacked and threatened Rob so his family was only acting out of concern for Rob’s safety. Rhodes said that despite the fact that the relationship between Chyna and Rob was irrevocably broken, Chyna was still determined to hold on to being part of the show and the family.

“This relationship was fraught with problems and the network was very worried,” Rhodes said, according to People magazine. “They were acting against their own financial interest to protect someone they loved.”

But the fireworks between the two sides started even before opening statements began on April 19 when Chyna’s mother, Tokyo Toni, 50, went on Instagram Live and blasted the Kardashian family’s appearance in court during jury selection. Rhodes later informed the judge about Tokyo’s posts and that he worried about his client’s physical safety with her in the courtroom, according to the New York Post.

“Ms. Jenner was worried about her physical safety,” Rhodes told the judge. He added that trying the case is “hard enough” with high-profile clients but even harder when he “has to worry about his clients.”

Chyna’s attorney agreed that Toni should not be in the courtroom and she has since not been present for the proceedings.

Blac Chyna vs. The Kardashians Is Officially Underway