Kim Kardashian, her mom Kris Jenner and sisters Kylie and Khloé sat front and center Tuesday as Blac Chyna’s $100 million defamation trial against them kicked off in a Los Angeles courtroom — and despite the star power surrounding the case, the outcome might come down to Kris’ boyfriend Corey Gamble, the women’s lawyer told jurors in his opening statement.
Gamble, who’s been dating the family matriarch since 2014, is expected to give testimony that he broke up a violent confrontation between Chyna and her former fiancé Rob Kardashian the morning of Dec. 15, 2016, in which Chyna allegedly physically assaulted the sole Kardashian brother.
The purported attack, which Chyna denies, is critical because Chyna claims the Kardashian-Jenner women simply didn’t like her and “conspired” to kill the second season of her hit reality show Rob & Chyna by spreading defamatory claims she was physically abusive with Rob.
Chyna’s lawyer said in her opening statement Tuesday that Chyna tore Rob’s shirt the night before the alleged fight because she “was very in love with her fiancé and thought he was hot.” She said the couple had been celebrating a media announcement that their show had been picked up for a second season.
“There was no violent attack,” Lynne Ciani told jurors. The lawyer said that while it was true her client damaged a gingerbread house, a TV and part of a door out of “frustration” over Rob’s alleged jealousy, it was “false” when Kris allegedly told TV executives that Chyna had “beat the shit out of Rob’s face.”
In his dueling opening statement, Kardashian-Jenner lawyer Michael G. Rhodes told jurors that “the parties have completely different world views” on the “series of chaotic events” that took place on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15 inside the home where Rob and Chyna were living with their four-week old baby Dream in 2016 — a home that actually belonged to Kylie Jenner.
“You’re going to have to piece it together,” he said of the incident. “Something happened, because it got a strong reaction from this group of women.”
Rhodes told jurors that Gamble “had to rush over to that house” to break up the fight. “He walked into a house where there was screaming and yelling. He will tell you, don’t believe me. Assess his credibility when he tells you they were fighting,” Rhodes said. “Mr. Gamble had to physically get between them. He yelled at Mr. Kardashian, ‘Get your car keys. Get your license. Get out of here.’ She’s attacking. He’s trying to keep her away. She’s irate.”
He said Chyna packed up her belongings that day and left the house. She and Rob “would never live together as a family ever again,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that she was physical with Mr. Kardashian,” he said, alleging that Chyna strangled Rob with an iPhone charging cord at one point.
“This is a sad story, how it happened. Look where we are,” he said, gesturing to the courtroom where minutes earlier he introduced his four clients by asking them to stand up individually.
“We’ve come full circle. There is no Rob & Chyna show unless there’s a Rob and Chyna. This isn’t the Chyna Show. This isn’t the Rob show,” he said. “Controversy does sell — but this is now verging on domestic abuse.”
Ciani told jurors in her opening statement that Chyna was the star of E!’s No. 1 hit show, earning $92,500 per episode, when the rug was pulled out from under her. She said the Kardiashian-Jenner women “had a family vote to cancel Season 2,” and Chyna was blindsided by what she claims was a secret campaign to kick her off the airwaves.
Chyna took the witness stand late in the afternoon Tuesday and was expected to continue her testimony Wednesday. The model and influencer told the jury about her humble childhood and how she started dancing in strip clubs to support her mom and ailing grandmother before Drake dropped her name in a song and her celebrity started to take off.
Chyna, whose legal name is Angela White, started dating Rob in January 2016. The former couple announced their engagement in April 2016 and welcomed their daughter, Dream, on Nov. 10, 2016. Their reality show, which aired for a single season in 2016, was produced by Bunim Murray Productions as a spin-off of the family’s flagship series, Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Chyna is seeking more than $40 million for loss of earning damages and more than $60 million in loss of future earning capacity damages, court filings show. In a statement before the trial started, Ciani said her client was “thankful” to finally reach a jury after nearly five years.
“All four defendants — Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner — abused their power to get her No. 1 hit show cancelled,” Ciani said. “The defendants’ illegal conduct not only cost Chyna millions and millions of dollars — their conduct was emotionally devastating to her. Kris Jenner was like a second mother to Chyna, and Kim had been her BFF for years. The extreme betrayal and humiliation felt by Chyna, after discovering the truth about what the defendants did to her, lingers to this day.”