LOS ANGELES – Kris Jenner falsely accused Blac Chyna of physically abusing Jenner’s son Rob Kardashian in a broader effort to force the couple’s reality show “Rob & Chyna” to be canceled, Chyna’s lawyer said Tuesday during opening statements in a Los Angeles trial.
Chyna, a model and former reality star whose legal name is Angela White, is suing the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” matriarch and her daughters Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner for lost earnings from the end of the 2016 spinoff after one season, and the loss of celebrity earning power that resulted from it.
“Kris Jenner set out to have ‘Rob & Chyna’ canceled,” Chyna's lawyer Lynne Ciani told the jury, as Jenner and the other Kardashian women sat in the front row of the gallery. “And she brought in her three daughters to help accomplish that.”
The defendants' attorney, Michael G. Rhodes, began his opening statement by introducing his clients and having them stand, saying that Kris Jenner “manages the vast empire that this family has built from scratch” and calling Kim Kardashian “one of the world’s most famous people.”
Chyna, he said, badly wanted what they have.
“The evidence is going to show you that Miss White would say or do anything to be part of this family,” Rhodes said.
He said the couple's reality show was canceled by the E! Network not because of any machinations by the Kardashians, but because they broke up.
“There is no ‘Rob & Chyna’ show if there is no Rob and Chyna,” Rhodes said.
Ciani gave an account of the couple's whirlwind relationship and wild year of 2016.
They met in January, announced their engagement in April, announced they were having a baby in May, and in November began their reality show and had a daughter, Dream.
“They really clicked, and it was one of those relationships that once they clicked, it really moved fast,” Ciani said.
Both sides agree that on Dec. 4, 2016, a day Chyna and Rob Kardashian celebrated the renewal of their show for a second season, the two got into a terrible argument that permanently damaged their relationship.
The differing accounts of that day will take up much of the trial that's expected to last seven to 10 days. All four defendants are expected to take the stand.
Ciani said that in messages to the head of the show, Jenner said that Chyna beat Rob Kardashian with a pole and wrapped a phone-charging cord around his neck so tightly it left marks.
But Ciani said unaired footage from series would show that he had not been significantly injured.
And she said Kris Jenner used her daughters to spread word of the alleged abuse to key people with power over the show's future.
Rhodes told the jury there was evidence of abuse, but said that more importantly the couple's relationship effectively ended that day, as did any real future for the show, though he said it was months before any decision was made to scrap it.
Chyna took the stand in the last minutes of the day, describing her early life and big initial break when the rapper Drake saw her working as a stripper in a Miami club and named her in a song. She returns to the witness chair on Wednesday.
She is suing the Kardashian family for $100 million in the lawsuit first filed in 2017, alleging defamation and interference with contracts.
Earlier Tuesday, after a selection process that saw many prospective jurors air their disdain for the Kardashians and the world of reality television, the two sides settled on a panel of eight men and eight women for the trial.
Four of the jurors will be alternates, but Superior Court Judge Gregory W. Alarcon said he would not declare which ones until deliberations begin.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton