Five years after Blac Chyna filed an explosive lawsuit against the Kardashians, her case is finally headed to trial. Chyna—a model, entrepreneur, and television personality who was once engaged to Rob Kardashian—has accused the Kardashians of a laundry list of offenses, including assault and harassment (on Rob’s part) and defamation (on the part of his family). She is seeking upwards of $100 million in damages from her former fiancé; Kim and Khloé Kardashian; and Kris and Kylie Jenner.
It’s a messy case, and a sprawling one: Both sides have filed hundreds of pages of legal paperwork in Los Angeles Superior Court over the years. We put together a guide on everything you need to know about Chyna’s lawsuit against the Kardashians, based on a review of court documents obtained by VICE.
Chyna first rose to fame in 2010, when she appeared in the music video for Kanye West’s “Monster.” Over the next few years, she forged friendships with a number of high-profile celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, and launched Lashed Cosmetics, a makeup brand and beauty bar in LA. In January of 2016, when she was 27 years old, she began dating Rob Kardashian, then 28.
By April of that year, the couple had gotten engaged, and they announced they were having a baby the next month. E!, the network behind Keeping Up With the Kardashians, began filming them for a spinoff reality series called Rob & Chyna. The show ran for a single season in the fall of 2016, culminating in a special on the birth of the couple’s daughter, Dream Kardashian. Shortly after their daughter was born, Rob and Chyna split up.
Rob and Chyna’s relationship as co-parents was notoriously tumultuous. In July of 2017, it imploded. Rob posted nude photos of Chyna on Instagram and Twitter, and publicly accused her of cheating on him during their engagement. Days later, Chyna took out a restraining order against her former fiancé. Though E! had originally planned to air a second season of Rob & Chyna, the network wound up scrapping it.
Chyna’s allegations against the Kardashians
In October of 2017, Chyna filed suit against Rob, Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé Kardashian; and Kris, Kylie, and Kendall Jenner. Though her case contains a number of different complaints, it hinges on one central allegation: that the Kardashian-Jenners waged a campaign to have Rob & Chyna canceled in an act of “revenge” over Chyna leaving Rob, and that the family lied to executives and producers at E! to make that happen.
According to Chyna’s suit, even after she and Rob split up, E! was still planning on moving forward with a second season of Rob & Chyna, one focused on the former couple co-parenting their child. Though they had separated in December of 2016, production on season two was “well underway” in early 2017, Chyna’s suit states: “Scenes were being filmed, producers were being selected, story lines were being planned, and staffers were actively working” on the show.
But the Kardashian-Jenners wanted the show killed, Chyna claims. According to her suit, they fabricated a story about Chyna beating up Rob Kardashian, using it to convince E! to abandon their plans for a second season of Rob & Chyna. In late 2016 and early 2017, Kris, Kim, Khloé, and Kylie contacted executives and producers at the network “to demand that they abruptly stop” production, her suit states. They “made a number of false statements about [Chyna] to E! network executives and executive producers of Rob & Chyna, including that [Chyna] physically abused defendant Rob Kardashian,” and that she would “proceed with… physically abusing” him in the future, her suit states.
Shortly after the Kardashian-Jenners held a meeting with E!, production on Rob & Chyna ground to a halt, Chyna claims. By July of 2017, the second season had officially been canceled. According to Chyna, the Kardashian-Jenners also wanted to clear the way for Kylie to launch her own E! show, Life of Kylie, which premiered in August of 2017. They were “flexing their muscles so as to destroy Ms. White’s career so that she was no longer able to compete against the Kardashian-Jenner women as an entrepreneur and social media influencer,” her suit claims.
It continues: “In killing the second season of Rob & Chyna, defendants ensured that the E! network had room in its schedule for Kylie Jenner to star in her own show, in which she heavily promoted Kylie Cosmetics, which was once in direct competition with LASHED by Blac Chyna.”
Chyna claims that as a result of the Kardashian-Jenners defaming her in conversations with E!, she lost out on millions of dollars in potential income she would have otherwise earned from the network, endorsement deals, and other sources.
The Kardashians’ side of the story
By definition, defamation is a false statement that damages a person’s reputation. The Kardashian-Jenners aren’t liable for defamation, they argue, because what they told E! about Chyna is true. In a 2020 legal filing, the Kardashian-Jenners concede that they told executives and producers at E! that Chyna had assaulted Rob Kardashian. As they tell it, they were concerned that moving forward with Rob & Chyna might put Rob in further danger.
The altercation in question allegedly occurred on the night of December 14, 2016. During a “drug- and alcohol-fueled rampage,” their filing states, “Chyna strangled Rob with an electronic 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.” Earlier that night, the defendants claim, three people had separate FaceTime calls with Rob and Chyna during which they witnessed Chyna “brandishing a gun and acting erratically.”
“Two of the three individuals confirmed that, during their FaceTime calls, Chyna pointed the gun at Rob’s head and threatened to kill him if he ever cheated on her with another woman—all while their infant daughter slept upstairs,” the filing states.
The filing goes on to argue that E! didn’t kill Rob & Chyna because of requests from the Kardashian-Jenners; E! killed it because Rob and Chyna broke up. “As numerous E! executives and [production] personnel have testified, if there was no couple, then there could be no show,” the filing states. Once Chyna took out a restraining order against Rob, which prevented him from coming within 100 feet of her, there was no way E! could move forward with a second season, the filing claims. “The restraining order obtained by Chyna would have made it impossible to proceed with the Series as a practical matter,” the filing states.
“E! ultimately determined not to proceed with season two of the Series, on the basis that it is not in the business of making entertainment programming about an adversarial relationship between two individuals with a baby between them and that such a show did not align with the E! brand or the preferences of its audience,” the filing states. “Moreover, E! continued to hear from the production company BMP [Bunim Murray Productions] that there could be no second season of the Series without Rob and Chyna the couple.”
Chyna’s allegations against Rob
Chyna’s lawsuit also contains specific claims against Rob, including for assault, battery, and harassment. While the former couple was having an argument at their house in April of 2017, the suit states, Rob smacked Chyna’s phone out of her hand and “violently knocked her to the ground,” where she landed on her hands and knees. Chyna claims she locked herself in her bedroom, but that Rob “lost all control and tore the hinges off of [her] bedroom door,” forcing her to shutter herself in a bathroom closet. She “suffered pain and difficulty walking for days following the domestic dispute,” the suit states.
The suit also claims that Rob “has a long history of harassing [Chyna]” by phone, via email, and on social media. According to Chyna’s suit, Rob would often “threaten to kill himself in a sick attempt to manipulate her.” One text message Rob allegedly sent her, which Chyna screenshotted and included in her suit, contains the following: “I will kill myself just to show U how serious I was about u and all this.” Over the span of two months in 2017, Chyna’s suit states, she was forced to change her number three times to “avoid [Rob’s] harassment and abusive attempts to manipulate her.”
In a 2018 legal filing, Rob denied every allegation Chyna made against him, and insisted that Chyna was never “harmed in any way by [him], or at all.”
What happens next?
Chyna recently rejected a settlement offer for an undisclosed amount from the Kardashians’ attorney, Michael G. Rhodes, according to CBS Los Angeles. But Chyna’s attorney, Lynne Ciani, told the outlet she plans to make a counteroffer before the trial gets underway. If the Kardashians accept it, their yearslong legal battle with Chyna would wrap up quietly, but if they don’t, the trial will begin Friday with jury selection. Kim, Kris, Kylie, and Khloé are expected to take the witness stand shortly after opening statements, Rolling Stone reports. Ciani told Rolling Stone that Chyna plans to testify as well. If Chyna wins, a jury will decide how much to award her of the more than $100 million in damages she’s seeking.
Even after this case is resolved, Rob and Chyna’s legal feud won’t be over. As Rolling Stone reports, a separate revenge porn case, which Chyna filed against Rob for posting nude images of her on social media, is set to go to trial in early May.
Drew Schwartz is a senior staff writer at VICE. Follow him on Twitter.