NetFlix (NFLX) – 'Hold Netflix Accountable': 'Inventing Anna' Series Prompts Defamation Lawsuit From Anna Delvey's Ex-Friend


Netflix Inc NFLX frequently faces defamation lawsuits due to the way it depicts real-life individuals in its docudramas.

The streaming company has faced legal action for its “Our Father” documentary, “The Queens Gambit”, its unscripted “Afflicted” docudrama in 2018, and most recently for its portrayal of Rachel Williams, who went by the name Rachel in the well-liked “Inventing Anna” docuseries that followed the life of New York City con artist Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey).

Read more: Netflix In Court Over ‘The Queen’s Gambit’: What You Need To Know

What Happened: Williams, a former photo editor for Vanity Fair, is suing the streaming service for defamation, claiming it depicted her as a fair-weather friend who accepted gifts from Sorokin and then betrayed her to the law after she discovered Sorokin lied about her wealth.

“This action will show that Netflix made a deliberate decision for dramatic purposes to show Williams doing or saying things in the Series which portray her as a greedy, snobbish, disloyal, dishonest, cowardly, manipulative and opportunistic person,” the Delaware-filed complaint obtained by The Hollywood Reporter read.

It should be noted the Netflix series began with a disclaimer: “This story is completely true. Except for the parts that are totally made up.”

Williams was frequently portrayed in the show as a fake friend, most notably on a trip to Morocco when Williams attempted to leave Sorokin as the con artist began to have financial troubles.

In truth, the lawsuit claimed, Williams informed Sorokin prior to the trip that she would need to depart on a specified day in order to travel to France for business.

The former Vanity Fair editor and current writer published an article in Time in February that walked through the course of events with Sorokin following the premiere of the series. In the op-ed, William explained, “I testified at her trial, describing the events that left me with more than $60,000 in credit card debt after an ‘all-expenses-paid’ trip to Morocco with Anna and two others.”

Why It Matters: In one episode, Williams used a credit card provided by her employer to pay for the vacation since hotel staff members kept the group hostage until the bill was paid. The specific events depicted in the scene are not known to have occurred.

“That debt was well over what I made in a year,” Williams continued, “At her trial, Anna was found guilty of swindling more than $200,000 from hotels, banks and other institutions; she was found not guilty of stealing from me.”

In 2017, Sorokin was detained in a sting operation with the aid of Williams after receiving $320,000 from Netflix for the rights to her story.

“Just hours after regaining freedom,” Williams wrote, “Anna took to Twitter: ‘Someone from Fortress Investment Group—I need $720m by the end of next week, DM me.’ Her bio on the platform read, ‘I’m back.’”

Williams told The Hollywood Reporter that she is suing the platform because it misrepresented her by using her genuine identity and authentic details of her life. She stated, “I am filing this lawsuit to hold Netflix accountable for its deliberate recklessness.”

Photo: Photo by David Giesbrecht/Netflix via IMDb 


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