The Kardashians appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom this week for Blac Chyna’s long-awaited trial against the famous family, which set off fireworks, even before opening arguments began.
Blac Chyna, a model and influencer whose real name is Angela White, was previously engaged to Rob Kardashian with whom she shares a 5-year-old daughter. The pair starred in their own E! reality show together, “Rob & Chyna,” which aired for one season in 2016. The second season was being shot when the two broke up, but was scrapped and never made it to air.
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Chyna is suing the family for $100 million, claiming that they ruined her reality TV career.
The case revolves around Chyna’s 2017 lawsuit, which alleges that her ex-fiancé, Rob, was abusive and that the Kardashian-Jenners were responsible for the cancellation of the former couple’s short-lived show. Chyna sued the entire family — Rob Kardashian, his mother Kris Jenner and his sisters Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner — over claims of defamation, assault, battery, domestic violence and interference with prospective economic relations. That same year, the family responded to the claims with their own lawsuit, alleging that Chyna had attacked Rob.
Kris, Kim, Khloé and Kylie, all defendants in the case, were present in the courtroom on Monday and Tuesday for jury selection and opening statements, though Rob did not attend. The women sat next to each other as the trial began at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse, and all are expected to take the stand and testify at some point during the 10-day trial.
Aside from the Kardashians and Jenners, Ryan Seacrest, who was an executive producer on “Rob & Chyna,” is also on the witness list, but might testify by video deposition since he is a New York state resident. Other Hollywood figures who could be called include executives from E! and Bunim Murray Productions, the company behind the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” franchise, including Rob and Chyna’s series.
On the first day in court, Chyna was accompanied by her mother Tokyo Toni and attorney Lynne Ciani, who has said her client will be present for the entire trial. But on Tuesday morning, the judge banned Chyna’s mother from the courtroom for the remainder of the trial, after she went on a social media rant towards the Kardashians and Jenners on Monday evening. In her profanity-laden Instagram video, Chyna’s mother appeared to be rolling a blunt and said, “This shit gonna get crazy. I don’t give a fuck,” then blatantly criticizing all of the Kardashian women and calling Kris “decrepit.” The Kardashian family’s attorney, Michael G. Rhodes, brought the video to the judge’s attention on Tuesday, stating that Chyna’s mother had made threatening comments towards his client, according to TMZ. “I can’t control her mother,” Chyna’s lawyer told the judge. “My client wants a fair trial. I already told her it was unacceptable and she can’t be in the courtroom.”
During jury selection, the panels were questioned about their awareness of the star defendants and plaintiff, in order to weed out any biased individuals from the pool. A courtroom source says that out more than 70 jurors, five individuals made negative comments about the Kardashian-Jenner family, and many more made negative statements about Chyna.
When asked about the Kardashians, one man responded, “Anything that has to do with their names is just a big no for me,” according to USA Today, which also reported on the family’s supporters in the courtroom with one young woman saying, “ I am a pretty big fan of the Kardashians, so I don’t think I would be able to make an unbiased judgment.”
Another prospective juror, per TMZ, suggested they could not be impartial, stating in court, “I’ve seen the Kardashian sex tape.”
Chyna is seeking more than $40 million for loss of earning damages and more than $60 million in loss of future earning capacity damages, according to court filings. Earlier this month, Rhodes, the Kardashian-Jenner’s attorney, told the judge that Chyna rejected a settlement offer.
Ahead of the trial, Chyna’s attorney said in a statement to the media that her client is “thankful” to be able to prove to a jury that all four defendants “abused their power” to cancel her show. “Chyna went from being the star on E!’s number-one hit show at $92,500 per episode to being off the airwaves entirely,” the attorney added. “The defendants’ illegal conduct not only cost Chyna millions and millions of dollars, their conduct was emotionally devastating to her. Kris Jenner was like a second mother to Chyna and Kim had been her BFF for years. The extreme betrayal and humiliation felt by Chyna after discovering the truth about what the defendants did to her lingers to this day.”
Rhodes categorized Chyna’s as “nonsense” when speaking to media days before the trial. He told ET, “We aren’t going to sully the process by responding to slanderous nonsense.”
Variety has reached out to attorneys on both sides for additional comment.
In her 2017 lawsuit, Chyna said her reality show with her ex was already underway on a second season, but claimed the family intentionally put an axe to the series to spite her. “Rob Kardashian is an abuser intent on destroying Angela White, the mother of his baby, who left him in 2016,” the suit states. “In revenge, the Kardashian-Jenner family became media predators, slut-shaming her on social media and killing her hit television show, which had already begun filming a second season.”
In 2017, in the midst of the couple’s “revenge porn” feud where Rob’s social media accounts were shut down when he posted pornographic images that had been exchanged between him and Chyna, E! told Variety that their series, “Rob & Chyna,” had been taken off the network’s schedule prior to the real-life romantic falling out that played out in the tabloid media.
“While filming on ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ has been ongoing, spin-off ‘Rob & Chyna’ has not been in production for several months and the series is not currently on the E! schedule,” a spokesperson for E! exclusively told Variety at the time. “As always, we follow the family’s lead regarding their lives and relationships, and viewers saw firsthand as the family discussed putting ‘Rob & Chyna’ on hold in an episode of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ this spring. ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ is not filming right now.”
(E! is no longer in business with the Kardashian-Jenner family, which now has a deal at Disney. Last week, the family premiered their new show, “The Kardashians,” on Hulu.)
Chyna’s “revenge porn” claim against Rob Kardashian will be tried after the ongoing defamation trial.
Editor’s note: This story will be updated with new information from jury selection and opening arguments, as the trial progresses.
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