Blac Chyna vs Kardashians: Opening statements begin in defamation trial

Blac Chyna made a slow but steady rise from a fast food worker, stripper and model to now a plaintiff suing fellow reality television figures, her attorney told a jury Tuesday as trial of her defamation case continued in a downtown courtroom against members of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, whose lawyer summed up the case by saying, "This case is part of a publicity stunt."

Attorney Lynne Ciani, on behalf of Chyna, said in her opening statement in Los Angeles Superior Court that one of the biggest events in her client's life years ago was falling in love with rapper Tyga after appearing in one of his videos in 2011, and later giving birth to their son, King Cairo, who is now 9 years old.

"Her professional life was taking off, her personal life was taking off," Ciani said as she began laying out her client's defamation claims.


Chyna, whose real name is Angela White, alleges socialites Kim and Khloe Kardashian, their mother, Kris Jenner, and sister, Kylie Jenner, made false statements about her, causing her to lose considerable money from the cancellation of the "Rob & Chyna" show — a reality series the model appeared in with former fiancé Rob Kardashian.

The lawsuit brought in November 2017 alleges defamation and interference with prospective economic advantage. Chyna maintains the four women falsely claimed she physically abused Rob Kardashian while they were a couple. Rob Kardashian recently dropped a separate lawsuit he filed against Chyna over the alleged beating.

Chyna maintains that E! would have gone forward with a second season of "Rob & Chyna" but for the allegedly false statements made against her by the Kardashian and Jenner women to network representatives in late 2016 and early 2017.

But defense attorney Michael G. Rhodes said E! chose not to go forward with the second season of "Rob & Chyna" because the Chyna/Rob Kardashian relationship went "off the rails," resulting in Chyna assaulting Rob Kardashian in Kylie Jenner's Hidden Hills home in December 2016, including putting a phone cord around his neck and pointing a gun — likely unloaded — at his head.

In July 2017, Chyna asked for and received a temporary restraining order against her former fiance, making it all but impossible for the show to proceed, according to Rhodes.

All attempts by E! executives to mend the relationship and have the couple go to a retreat so the show could continue were unfruitful, Rhodes said. While the Kardashians and Jenners may have said some things that were unflattering to Chyna, they were rightfully upset about what they believed she had done to their brother and son, and the four acted to "protect someone they loved," Rhodes said.

"This case is part of a publicity stunt," Rhodes said, adding, "There is no drama like a family drama."

Rhodes introduced all four of his clients to jurors, listing their business accomplishments and noting that Kylie Jenner, at 24, is the most followed woman in the world on Instagram.

Rhodes maintains — and Chyna disputes — that she willingly accepted $100,000 to allow the second season of "Rob & Chyna" to be terminated even after filming had begun.

"Does the show have to go on no matter what? That's for you to decide," Rhodes told jurors.

Ciani told jurors that Chyna was born in Washington, D.C., and she worked at fast food restaurants, including McDonald's, in order to afford college classes in Florida. She reluctantly followed her mother's path into exotic dancing, where the money was better, according to Ciani.

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"It wasn't her goal to move to follow her mom into that," Ciani said. "She wanted to move on to bigger things."

Chyna later obtained modeling jobs and got a break when rapper Drake mentioned her in one of his songs, Ciani said.

"It was a big deal she was mentioned in that song," Ciani said.

Along with the Tyga video, Chyna also appeared in one as a stunt double for Nicki Minaj in 2010, according to Ciani.

Chyna, the trial's first witness, testified briefly Tuesday. She said she adopted the name "Blac Chyna" while working as a stripper and being introduced to a customer who said his name was "Black China." She said her main impetus in stripping was to support her education and her cancer-stricken grandmother.

Chyna, 33, and Rob Kardashian, 35, began dating in January 2016. The two broke up in the summer of 2017, according to Chyna, but Rhodes said the plaintiff stated in a sworn declaration in support of the TRO that the relationship ended in December 2016.

The former couple has a daughter, Dream Renee, who is 5 years old.

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