The Kardashians on Monday won their defamation case, after a Los Angeles jury found no merit in the $108 million suit filed by reality star Blac Chyna, and a judge awarded her nothing in damages.
The 33 year-old had accused Kim Kardashian, her sisters Khloe and Kylie Jenner and their mother, Kris Jenner, of making statements that ruined or defamed her reputation and of plotting to get her TV show Rob and Chyna axed. On Friday, Kim was dropped from the defamation part of the suit.
But on Monday, the jury returned a verdict that, while it did not completely exonerate the billionaire clan of any wrongdoing, still awarded Chyna no damages at all.
Chyna sat in stunned silence as the court clerk announced their decision.
The case went to the jury at 4.30pm last Thursday and the 12 men and women on the panel took till 3.30pm on Monday to reach their verdict.
Under California law, civil trials require at least 9 jurors to vote in favor of a verdict.
Unlike the the rest of the trial, there was no fashion parade of Kardashians at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown LA.
Kim, 41, Khloe, 37, Kylie, 24 and Kris, 66, were all 3,000 miles away at the glittering Metropolitan Gala in New York City.
Only their attorney, Michael Rhodes, was in court to represent them.
Jurors in the Blac Chyna-Kardashians trial reached a verdict on Monday afternoon, four days after they began their deliberations. Chyna, 33, is pictured leaving Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday
Chyna accuses the Kardashians of plotting to cancel her hit reality show Rob & Chyna
The Los Angeles trial lasted almost two weeks before lawyers for both sides wound up their closing arguments and the case went to the jury at 4:30pm on Thursday.
Under California law, civil trials require at least nine jurors to vote in favor of a verdict. If nine or more can’t agree, the judge can declare a mistrial.
That would essentially mean that neither side won – and a new trial, with a new jury, could be convened, in which the case would be tried all over again.
After about 10 hours of deliberations, the jurors found on the long jury form that the Kardashians often acted in bad faith on the issues brought up in the case, but that it had no substantial effect on Chyna’s contract or the fate of the show.
As a result, she was awarded no damages.
(L-R) Kris Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian and Kim Kardashian were seen last month on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kris, Khloe, Kim and Kylie Jenner have been named in Chyna’s lawsuit
Blac Chyna was seen leaving the hearing last week after lawyers made their closing arguments
(L-R) Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Kris Jenner were seen in a courtroom sketch attending the legal proceedings
Kardashian attorney Michael Rhodes was seen alongside Kim Kardashian in this courtroom sketch
Chyna and Rob Kardashian are seen together in Las Vegas in May 2016
Rhodes, representing the Kardashians, urged the jury in his summing up on Friday ‘to let the family start to heal.’
He said there was no substance to Chyna’s suit, seeking damages for economic loss of $108 million, saying she had failed to present any hard financial evidence of loss of income or of emotional distress.
Rhodes said that Chyna was violent and aggressive.
‘Did Chyna beat the s*** out of Rob? Yes, she did,’ he said.
‘It was true. It happened.’
Rhodes referred to the day of Chyna and her 35-year-old boyfriend’s ‘big fight’ in December 2016, when she packed up and left their home with their baby girl, Dream, born a month earlier.
Rob Kardashian said that she hit him with a six-foot rod, pulled a phone cord around his neck and twice pointed a gun at his head.
During her testimony, Chyna, 33, denied that they broke up at that point.
Chyna maintains their relationship ended in the summer of 2017, but the defendants say Chyna acknowledged in a written declaration that the two split in December 2016.
Rhodes told jurors on Thursday that she denied the relationship had ended because she wanted to show the television program was still viable.
‘She had to confirm the relationship was still ok because she has to convince you that the network still wanted her show,’ Rhodes said.
‘This was not a relationship that any network executive wants on TV.’
‘Rob & Chyna’ premiered in September 2016 and ran for one season.
The series was renewed for a second season, but in light of Kardashian and Chyna’s breakup, plans for Season 2 were put on hold.
Chyna alleges the Kardashians spread false reports of her assaulting him in order to have the ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ spinoff canceled and ruin her reality TV career.
E! network executives testified during the trial that ‘Rob & Chyna’ was supposed to be a light-hearted romantic comedy.
The court was also told that a producer on the show told Chyna that if she wanted a second season of the show, she would have to mend her relationship with Kardashian, and suggested counseling could help.
Rhodes on Thursday said Chyna’s reaction to the idea was: ‘F*** no, f*** that.
‘F*** Rob. I’m not doing that.’
Rhodes asked the jury: ‘Is this the relationship you want to build your romantic comedy around?
‘Somebody who would say that to her baby’s father? Would you put this on the air?’
Asking the jury to ‘walk with me’ over to his clients – Rhodes represents Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, who are all defendants – he pointed at the assembled Kardashians and said: ‘This is the child’s grandmother, her aunts.’
Rhodes told the jury to recall the ‘pain and anguish’ on Rob Kardashian’s face during his testimony on Wednesday, noting: ‘That was real. This is a real family.
‘Yes they’re famous, but they’re real people.
‘Just because Rob is a big guy, doesn’t mean he can’t be a victim.
‘How would you feel if you child went through this?
‘Picture Rob. What did he look like? Was that fake?’
E! Network executives paid Chyna $370,000 to film four episodes of KUWTK after season one of Rob and Chyna ended. She is seen at right in one of those episodes with Kim Kardashian
Kourtney Kardashian, Blac Chyna and Kim Kardashian are pictured in the center in a photo Kim posted to her Instagram
Rhodes also accused Chyna of ‘hiding her money’ and not filing tax returns for three years.
Under oath, Chyna admitted that she told her accountant to stop preparing her tax returns for the year 2019 and has not paid taxes since.
‘You cheated the government – but we’re going to give you millions of dollars – is that right?’ he asked the jury.
She was accused during the fight of smashing a TV, a bedroom door and a Christmas gingerbread house.
‘The gingerbread house was silly, over the top and beautiful – like the Kardashians,’ said Rhodes.
‘When she smashed it, she was venting her anger on everything she was not going to be.’
E!’s Keeping up with the Kardashian ended its 20-season run in June 2021
Earlier on Thursday, the judge denied Chyna’s request to repeat her testimony against the Kardashians after she became upset and walked off the stand when she was shown a nude photo of herself during cross-examination.
Timeline of Rob and Chyna’s gun incident, breakup and show cancelation
December 14, 2016 – Chyna says she and her then-fiancé were ‘laughing and joking and being silly’ as they celebrated season two of Rob and Chyna being greenlit by NBC Universal.
She denies yelling ‘I’m going to kill you’ to Rob. She told the court that she pointed the gun upwards and didn’t put her finger where the trigger was.
Chyna says she put a phone chord around Rob’s neck ‘as a joke’, because ‘he was playing video games and I was just trying to get his attention.’
December 15, 2016 – Chyna smashes a TV and a gingerbread house and damages the bedroom door.
She said she was furious at Rob for taking her phone in a fit of jealousy and locking himself in a closet to check her messages.
Kris Jenner’s boyfriend, Corey Gamble, shows up at Rob and Chyna’s home.
Chyna says that he stood between her and Rob, telling Rob to get his car keys and get out of the house.
Chyna leaves the home with daughter Dream that morning.
January 2017 – Chyna says she and Rob hiked together in Malibu.
Rob reportedly goes with her to New York for her personal appearance at a strip club, where cameras followed her.
Chyna said she was also filmed by hand-held cameras at another Las Vegas appearance, which made her think they were shooting Rob and Chyna’s season two.
July/August 2017 – Chyna learns Rob and Chyna had actually been cancelled.
October 2017 – Chyna files a $108 million defamation suit against Kris Jenner and Kylie, Khloe and Kim Kardashian and accuses them of forcing producers to cancel her show.
Judge Gregory W. Alarcon made the decision on Thursday afternoon to move on to closing arguments.
Chyna’s attorney Lynne Ciani rested the plaintiff’s case on Thursday morning.
The photo is central to another trial that will begin soon after this one concludes.
Chyna is suing Rob Kardashian over the image, alleging he posted it online out of retribution.
Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner and Khloé Kardashian were in the front row of the courtroom early on Thursday.
Kim Kardashian was absent after attending most of the nine-day trial.
Alarcon began reading the jury instructions in the case late Thursday morning.
Ciani wrapped up her case Thursday by showing jurors a video deposition from Frances Berwick, an executive with NBCUniversal, E!’s parent company.
Berwick said that a second season of ‘Rob & Chyna’ didn’t go ahead because ‘their relationship broke down.’
Berwick said: ‘Their relationship was in a sad place and we didn’t think that it was a good fit for E! – which is frothy and escapist, on the lighter side.’
Berwick said she had not had a conversation with Kris Jenner in which Kris threatened to pull ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ if season two of ‘Rob & Chyna’ went ahead.
Asked why NBCUniversal issued a press release in December 2016 announcing a new season, she said that didn’t mean the series had been ‘greenlit’ but that it was only ‘an indication of what we hoped to do.’
She added that ‘it would not be the first time’ a press release had come out announcing a show that did not go forward later.
Chyna appeared in court Thursday wearing a black check jacket, black leggings and black spike heels, with an orange jacket over the top.
Khloe Kardashian was also in attendance and arrived wearing a black tuxedo jacket over a silk shirt, black leggings and white sneakers.
Her mother, Kris Jenner wore black pants and a black blazer with white piping.
During cross examination last week Rhodes presented Chyna with a copy of the restraining order she filed in 2017 against her ex-fiancé, Rob Kardashian after he allegedly posted ‘revenge porn’ photos of her on social media.
Attached to the restraining order documents were copies of the offending nude pictures which both parties in the case had previously agreed by stipulation would not be shown to the jury.
Jurors did not see them, but Chyna did, and allegedly became ‘upset’ and rattled by the photos.
Chyna was so distressed that when Rhodes grilled her later about the amount of damages she is seeking, she couldn’t name a dollar figure and only gave vague answers to other questions he asked about damages, her lawyer claimed.
Seeing the pictures ‘derailed’ Chyna’s testimony, Ciani told Judge Alarcon.
‘There was a stipulation that the photos would not be included which was violated intentionally,’ she added.
Ciani asked the judge to order Chyna’s previous testimony about damages to be stricken from the record and that she be allowed to take the witness stand again.
Rhodes denied any wrongdoing, telling the court: ‘The premise that I tricked the witness (Chyna) into seeing those photographs is absurd.’
Rob Kardashian testified on Wednesday that he feared for his life on a night in 2016 when his then-fiancée Blac Chyna pointed a gun at his head, pulled a phone-charging cable around his neck and repeatedly hit him with a metal rod while under the influence of substances.
‘She strangled me, she put a gun to my head twice, she was on cocaine and alcohol,’ Kardashian said, his voice rising nearly to a shout in a Los Angeles courtroom as Chyna’s attorney Lynne Ciani sought to cast doubt on the attack and its severity.
During an emotional and contentious hour on the stand, Rob Kardashian grew angry when Ciani asked him why photos and video from the days that followed didn’t show any marks on him, despite his testimony that she had hit him repeatedly with a 6-foot metal rod.
‘Did you have as much as a Band-Aid on you?’ the attorney asked.
‘I just told you it didn’t leave a mark on my face!’ Rob Kardashian said.
‘And the gun to my head two different times during the night didn’t leave a mark to my temple!’
Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian watched the testimony from the front row of the gallery, and had no visible reaction.
Chyna testified earlier in the trial that she was never violent toward Rob Kardashian.
She said that on the night of Dec. 14 and the morning of Dec. 15, 2016, the couple had been celebrating the news that ‘Rob & Chyna’ was getting a second season.
The all-night celebration turned into a bitter fight by morning, when he took her phone and shut himself in a closet, looking for evidence of communications with other men, she said.
She testified that earlier in the evening, she had wrapped a phone-charging cord around Rob Kardashian’s neck playfully because he was ignoring her, and picked up a gun he kept around, always unloaded, from a nightstand as a joke.
The chain of events would lead to the end of the relationship, and their show.
Rob Kardashian, 35, the youngest of Kris Jenner’s four children with the late Robert Kardashian, has kept a much lower public profile than his mother and sisters.
He was mostly an offscreen character, and only occasionally appeared, on the family’s reality show.
He broke from the pattern in 2016, spending a year in the limelight before it went bad.
He and Chyna began dating in January, announced their engagement in April, announced they were having a child together in May, had their own reality show premiere in September, and had a daughter, Dream, in November.
He testified Wednesday that he felt in retrospect that their love was never real, and that he had been at the ‘weakest, worst point’ in his life when their relationship began.
He said the coupling was ‘toxic’ from the start, and that she beat him at least five times during the yearlong relationship.
‘Strangling someone, beating someone, that’s not a family,’ he said.
‘That’s not love to me.’
Rob Kardashian wore a loose-fitting, untucked black dress shirt on the stand.
His otherwise dark testimony drew a laugh from most of the courtroom when Ciani suggested that two videos she showed were shot on the same day because he was wearing the same thing.
‘That doesn’t mean anything,’ he said. ‘I wear the same thing every day.’
Rob Kardashian is not a defendant in this trial.
Chyna’s allegations against him, stemming from the same incidents, will get a separate trial when this one is done.
Earlier on Wednesday, Corey Gamble, a key witness backing up Rob Kardashian’s account of the assault, insisted that he saw Chyna punch him and whip him with a phone-charging cord, as Ciani tried to poke holes in his story.
‘I said that she attacked him,’ testified Gamble, the longtime boyfriend and sometime co-star of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ matriarch Kris Jenner.
‘What I saw is what I saw.’
Gamble said he rushed to the house the couple was staying in after Kris Jenner got an early morning call from her son, who sounded deeply distressed.
When he arrived, he said, Chyna was holding some sort of metal rod, and threw it down.
She rushed toward Rob Kardashian, whipping the phone cord at him then punching him.
‘By the time she got to him, she started hitting him,’ Gamble testified.
‘I was able to get in the middle of them two. I even got hit two or three times.’
Gamble said Chyna threw a chair at Rob Kardashian’s car as he was leaving, then attempted to pick up a table but Gamble stopped her.
During cross-examination, Ciani had Gamble read from a declaration he submitted in the case two years earlier, in which he said he arrived to find Chyna hitting Rob Kardashian with her fists, but made no mention of any of the objects.
‘You didn’t see sufficient to mention the metal rod, the cord or the table?’ Ciani asked.
‘I don’t know why I didn’t include those details,’ Gamble said.