LOS ANGELES — The Kardashians did not defame Blac Chyna or wrongfully interfere with her contract for a second season of her reality TV show with Rob Kardashian, a jury found Monday.
The Los Angeles jury issued the verdict in favor of the Kardashians after deliberating for about 10 hours. Chyna had accused Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner of halting a second season of Rob & Chyna, the E! reality show that followed her and Rob's whirlwind romance in 2016.
Monday's decision comes more than four years after Chyna sued the entire Kardashian/Jenner clan, accusing them of pressuring the network to cancel the show. During the trial, which only involved her claims against Kris, Kim, Khloé, and Kylie, Chyna’s attorney, Lynne Ciani, showed jurors text messages and emails sent by the Kardashians advocating that the show not be renewed as they expressed concern for Rob's well-being after Chyna allegedly attacked him in December 2016.
Chyna declined to speak to reporters at the courthouse on Monday. She left the courtroom and did not return while jurors were being polled on their answers to what was a very long jury form.
Jurors were tasked with answering 70 yes or no questions in their verdict, though based on their answers to certain questions they did not have to respond to others. While jurors found that the Kardashians largely acted in bad faith and that their actions with respect to Chyna's contract were not justified, they generally did not believe the family's actions prevented Season 2 from moving forward. Of the four women, only Kylie acted to prevent performance of Chyna's contract, but her actions did not cause Chyna harm, the jury determined.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, the Kardashians’ attorney, Michael Rhodes, said the family, who were at the Met Gala in New York when the verdict was announced, was "very pleased."
"I think the case was very clear cut," Rhodes said. "The jury got it."
Chyna alleged that the reality TV moguls defamed her by making what she believed were false statements about the incident, including a text sent by Kris claiming that she “beat the shit out of Rob’s face” and an email from Kylie that said if the show were to continue Chyna "will proceed with using and physically abusing my brother."
But before jurors returned for a verdict, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Gregory W. Alarcon dismissed the defamation claim against Kim, offering the Kardashian family an early victory Friday morning.
Kim’s attorney had argued that she should be cleared of defamation claims after Chyna’s attorneys didn’t provide specific statements that were defamatory toward Chyna. Chyna’s attorneys argued that despite not making a specific statement, Kim had “ratified” statements by other defendants. The judge disagreed.
As they each in turn took the witness stand, the Kardashians claimed that Chyna strangled Rob with a cellphone charging cord, hit him with a metal rod, pointed a gun at his head, and then threw a patio chair at his car as he left Kylie Jenner’s house, where the former couple had been living at the time. Chyna, meanwhile, brushed off the allegations in her testimony, saying that she had only been joking, and denied pointing the gun at Rob’s head or trying to strangle him with the cord.
The incident was a key event in the unraveling of Rob & Chyna and a centerpiece of the trial. In closing arguments, Ciani argued the story Rob Kardashian told his family — and the court — about Chyna allegedly trying to kill him that night and into the next morning was not believable because he was apparently left with no marks after Chyna allegedly struck him with a metal rod.
"That’s not credible," Ciani told the jurors, adding that no one called the police, Rob did not go to the hospital, and he didn't even have "a Band-Aid on him" after the alleged attack.
But for Rob and his family, the incident wrought emotional damage that, as their testimony showed, still affects them years later.
"I was traumatized," Kris said, getting choked up as she explained that less than 60 days before this incident, Kim had been held at gunpoint in her Paris hotel room. "To have another one of my children have a gun [pulled on them]."
Still, network executives testified at trial that nothing the Kardashians did or said impacted the decision not to renew the show. Instead, it was the breakdown of Rob and Chyna's relationship that made the show, as former E! president Adam Stotsky put it, “not the kind of show we would want to produce.”
After the verdict was announced, Ciani told reporters that in her eyes, jurors found that Chyna did not physically abuse Rob, which she said was a "huge victory" for Chyna. With respect to the allegedly defamatory statements made by Kris, Khloé, and Kylie, jurors determined that two of the four statements were not true. However, in each case they concluded that the Kardashians had "reasonable grounds" to believe that what they said was true.
Ciani also claimed that jurors found the defendants did intentionally interfere with the contract, though she was unable to point to the specific answers that supported her reasoning. She added that she and Chyna plan to appeal the rest of the verdict.
"There's been so much misinformation and false accusations in the press," Ciani said. "[Chyna] never physically abused her fiancé Rob."
Chyna was seeking millions of dollars in damages, saying that the cancellation caused her to lose income from reality TV appearances, club appearances, and social media posts.
At trial, Rhodes took issue, in particular, with Chyna’s claim that she lost out on income after she failed to produce certain financial documents in response to a court order, including tax returns for 2019, 2020, and 2021, arguing that there was no way to verify how much she has made since the show ended.
“If she’s misleading you about her income, what does that say about her credibility to you?” Rhodes told the jury during closing arguments.