This week, the Kardashians appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom for the long-awaited trial of Blac Chyna against the famous family, which set off fireworks before the opening arguments even began.
Model and influencer Blac Chyna, real name Angela White, was previously engaged to Rob Kardashian, with whom she has a 5-year-old daughter. The couple starred in their own E! co-reality show Rob and Chyna, which aired for one season in 2016. A second season was in production when they broke up, but was canceled and never aired.
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Chyna is suing her family for $100 million, claiming they ruined her reality TV career.
The case revolves around Chyna’s 2017 lawsuit alleging that her ex-fiance Rob abused her and that the Kardashian-Jenners were responsible for canceling the former couple’s short-lived show. China is suing the entire family – Rob Kardashian, his mother Kris Jenner and his sisters Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner – on charges of defamation, assault, battery, domestic violence and interference with alleged economic relationships . That same year, the family responded to the claims with their own lawsuit, alleging that Chyna assaulted Rob.
Chris, Kim, Khloe and Kylie, all defendants in the case, were in the courtroom on Monday and Tuesday for jury selection and opening statements, although Rob was not present. The women sat next to each other when the trial began at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse, and they are all expected to come forward and testify at some point during the 10-day trial.
In addition to the Kardashians and Jenner, Ryan Seacrest, who was the executive producer of Rob & Chyna, is also on the witness list but can testify via videotape as he is a New Yorker. Other Hollywood figures to name include the executives of E! and Bunim Murray Productions, the company behind the Keeping Up with the Kardashians franchise, including the Rob and Chyna series.
On the first day in court, Chyna was accompanied by her mother Tokyo Toni and lawyer Lynn Chiani, who said her client would be present throughout the trial. But on Tuesday morning, a judge barred Chyna’s mother from appearing in the courtroom until the end of the trial after she took to social media Monday night ranting about the Kardashians and the Jenners. In her Instagram video filled with profanity, Chyna’s mother appeared to be twirling a joint and said, “This shit is going to go crazy. I don’t care,” and then openly criticized all Kardashian women and called Kris “decrepit.” Kardashian family lawyer Michael J. Rhodes brought the video to the judge’s attention on Tuesday, saying Chyna’s mother made threatening comments about his client, TMZ reported. “I can’t control her mother,” Chyna’s lawyer told the judge. “My client wants a fair trial. I have already told her that this is unacceptable and that she cannot be in the courtroom.”
During juror selection, the panels were asked about their knowledge of the star defendants and plaintiff in order to weed out any biased individuals from the pool. Of the more than 70 jurors, five spoke negatively about the Kardashian-Jenner family, and many more spoke negatively about Chyna, a courtroom source says.
When asked about the Kardashian family, one man replied, “Anything related to their names is just a big no to me,” according to USA Today, which also reported family supporters in the courtroom, and one young woman said, “I quite a big fan of the Kardashian family, so I don’t think I can make an unbiased judgment.”
Another potential juror, according to TMZ, suggested they couldn’t be impartial, stating in court, “I saw the Kardashian sex tape.”
According to the lawsuits, Chyna is seeking more than $40 million in compensation for loss of income and more than $60 million in compensation for future loss of earning ability. Earlier this month, Rhodes, Kardashian-Jenner’s attorney, told the judge that Chyna had rejected the settlement offer.
Ahead of the trial, Chyna’s lawyer said in a media statement that her client was “grateful” for the opportunity to prove to the jury that all four defendants “abused their powers” to cancel her show. “Chyna has gone from being the star of the hit show E! from $92,500 per episode to completely off the air,” the lawyer added. “The defendants’ illegal behavior not only cost Chyna millions and millions of dollars, their behavior was emotionally devastating to her. Kris Jenner was Chyna’s second mother, and Kim was her best friend for many years. The extreme betrayal and humiliation that Chyna experienced after learning the truth about what the defendants did to her continues to this day.”
Rhodes called Chyna’s allegations “bullshit” when he spoke to the media days before the trial. He told ET: “We’re not going to cloud the process by responding to slanderous nonsense.”
Diversity reached out to attorneys for both sides for further comment.
In her 2017 lawsuit, Chyna claimed that her reality show with an ex was already on its second season, but claimed that the family deliberately put the hatchet on the show to annoy her. “Rob Kardashian is a rapist who intends to destroy Angela White, the mother of his child, who abandoned him in 2016,” the lawsuit says. “In retaliation, the Kardashian-Jenner family became media predators, embarrassing her on social media and destroying her popular TV show, which has already begun filming for its second season.”
In 2017, at the height of the couple’s “revenge porn” feud, when Rob’s social media accounts were taken down when he posted pornographic images exchanged between him and Chyna, E! said Diversity that their series Rob and China was taken off the network’s schedule before a real-life romantic altercation took place that played out in the tabloids.
“While filming on Keeping Up with the Kardashians continues, the Rob & Chyna spin-off hasn’t been filmed in months, and the series is currently not airing on E! schedule,” a spokesperson for E! exclusively told Diversity at that time. “As always, we are following the family’s lead with regards to their lives and relationships, and viewers saw firsthand how the family discussed the suspension of Rob & Chyna on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians this spring. “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is not filming right now.”
(E! is no longer working with the Kardashian-Jenner family, who now have a deal with Disney. Last week, the family premiered their new show, The Kardashians, on Hulu.)
Chyna’s “revenge porn” lawsuit against Rob Kardashian will be heard following an ongoing defamation trial.
Editor’s note: This story will be updated with new information on jury selection and opening arguments as the trial progresses.
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