Keeping up with the Kardashian family’s $134 million defamation lawsuit

A massive $US100 million ($134 million) defamation trial against the Kardashian-Jenner family finally began in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday, five years after Blac Chyna first filed the suit.

Chyna, whose legal name is Angela White, said in her complaint that after she split with former fiance Rob Kardashian in 2016, “the Kardashian-Jenner family became a media predator,” alleging they defamed her in the press and damaged her reputation.

In this courtroom artist sketch, Khloe Kardashian, from left, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Kris Jenner sit in court in Los Angeles.Credit:Bill Robles via AP

Chyna alleged that the family – specifically mother Kris Jenner and sisters Kim, Khloe and Kylie, falsely claimed to a TV network that Chyna assaulted Rob in order to cancel their reality show Rob & Chyna. The Kardashians have denied any wrongdoing.

Rob and Chyna, who have a five-year-old daughter, Dream, began dating in January 2016, and were engaged three months later. In that time, E!, the network which produced Keeping Up with the Kardashians, green-lit the spin-off Rob & Chyna.

Chyna reportedly earned $US124,000 for each of the show’s seven hour-long episodes. Rob & Chyna premiered in June 2016, and was watched by 2.7 million Americans, setting a cable record in the US.

But after the couple split in December 2016, around the same Rob & Chyna was renewed for a second season by E!, Chyna alleges that Kris, Kim, Khloe and Kylie contacted executives and producers “to demand that they abruptly stop” production of the show.

In October 2017 Chyna launched her defamation lawsuit against the Kardashians, suing the family for $US100 million.

Defendants Kim, Khloe, Kris and Kylie were present in court during jury selection and the first days of the trial. Rob Kardashian, however, has not been present.

When jury selection began on Monday, questions about impartiality prompted some strong responses from potential jurors.

Blac Chyna at the 2020 Oscars.Credit:Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

“Anything that has to do with their names is just a big no for me,” one man said. “I don’t think reality TV is good for society.”

“I am a pretty big fan of the Kardashians so I don’t think I would be able to make an unbiased judgment,” one young woman said.

Another said that while he had never watched the show, he was not fit to stand as he had watched Kim Kardashian’s sex tape.

“I’m going to be playing the sex tape in my head and possibly not listening too closely,” the court heard.

The Kardashians’ lawyers have rejected the claims made by Chyna, arguing that the family were compelled to stop the show’s second season after Chyna attacked Rob at Kylie Jenner’s home in California in December 2016.

“During an alcohol- and drug-fuelled 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,” the court papers filed by the Kardashians’ lawyers alleged.

Chyna’s lawyers denied these claims in their opening statement at the trial, saying, “There was no violent attack”.

“Jokingly, I grabbed the phone [cord] and put it around his neck,” Chyna testified to the court. “Not to strangle him.”

Chyna in a courtroom sketch. Credit:Bill Robles via AP

Chyna went on to say that she was “just doing silly stuff with my fiance” when she ripped her ex-partner’s shirt.

Also during Chyna’s testimony, the court heard that she was “joking” when she held a gun to Rob’s head.

“It was not loaded … I would never shoot Rob or anyone.”

However, Chyna did say that the altercation became serious later in the night when Rob accused her of cheating.

“I smashed a gingerbread house because I was really upset,” she said. “Then I damaged a TV.”

Following the alleged altercation Chyna and Rob never lived together again. Chyna later filed a separate lawsuit against Rob in July 2017, and was granted a temporary restraining order after he posted a series of naked pictures of Chyna online without her consent.

In court this week, the Kardashians’ lawyer, Michael G. Rhodes, said that “there’s no doubt that Chyna was physical with Mr Kardashian,” explaining the defendants’ decision to contact E! producers about cancelling the show’s second season.

“There is no Rob & Chyna show unless there’s a Rob and Chyna,” Rhodes said. “Controversy does sell – but this is now verging on domestic abuse.”

The trial is set to run for 10 days, and Chyna’s testimony will continue this week. The Kardashians are listed to testify.

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