Netflix Slapped With Defamation Suit Over ‘Inventing Anna’

A Vanity Fair employee, who is portrayed on the Netflix show about convicted con artist Anna Sorokin, filed a defamation lawsuit against the streaming service for wrongly portraying her as ‘unethical’ and ‘greedy’ among others on the series.

AceShowbiz -Netflix faces a legal trouble over how it develops the plot for “Inventing Anna“. A Vanity Fair employee, who is portrayed on the Netflix show about Anna Sorokin, filed a defamation lawsuit against the streaming service on Monday, August 29.

Rachel Williams, who is a friend of the convicted con artist, claims in the suit that she was wrongly labeled “unethical,” “greedy,” “snobbish” and “disloyal” on the series. The lawsuit, filed in Delaware federal court, also alleges that the show contained 16 separate sentences of defamatory statements about Rachel. She criticizes the show for making her look “despicable” by portraying Rachel strolling away from Anna, leaving her in Morocco and hiding her own role in facilitating Anna’s arrest.

“The magnitude of the harm to Williams caused by the Netflix’s defamation has been extraordinary by any plausible measure. The series has been viewed by millions of people around the world, and as a result of Netflix’s false portrayal of her as a despicable person, she has been subjected to a torrent of online abuse which have caused her personal humiliation, distress, and anguish, as well as damages to her earnings and/or potential earnings,” the complaint reads.

Rachel’s lawyer Alexander Rufus-Isaacs also claimed that his client suffered a huge online setback in the wake of the series. “The reason why we have had to file this lawsuit is because Netflix used Rachel’s real name and biographical details, and made her out to be a horrible person, which she is not,” he said in a statement to Deadline.

He continued, “The devastating damage to her reputation could have been avoided if only Netflix had used a fictitious name and different details. Why didn’t they do this for her, when they did for so many other characters in the Series? Perhaps the reason was that she had chosen to play for the other team, i.e., HBO.”

He added in a separate interview, “If you’re going to base a character on a real person and make them a villain, don’t use their real name. I wish the creatives would understand that. If they want to portray an uncomfortable character, they can’t use a real person’s name unless everything they’re saying is absolutely evangelical.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial as well as an injunction to have the alleged defamatory material involving Rachel edited out of “Inventing Anna”.

Rachel was swindled out of $62,000 by Anna and wrote a Vanity Fair article and book, titled “My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress”, about the experience. The Netflix series, meanwhile, was adapted from Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article which was titled “How an Aspiring ‘It’ Girl Tricked New York’s Party People – and its Banks”.

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