Netflix Facing Lawsuit Over ‘Inventing Anna’ Series

Inventing Anna

Netflix’s Inventing Anna may have released in February 2022, but the drama is still actively continuing, with a lawsuit. Anna Delvey’s former friend Rachel DeLoache Williams is suing the streaming giant for defamation over her portrayal in mini series.

Inventing Anna tells the story of the scammer socialite, Anna Delvey (played by Julia Garner), and how she fooled New York society into thinking she was a German heiress. The series, which is based on the Delvey’s life, was brought to life by showrunner Shonda Rhimes. The series was met with mixed reactions from fans, but a majority of critics gave the show positive reviews.

But back to the lawsuit. Williams, the former Vanity Fair staffer, is claiming that Netflix invaded her privacy and defamed her through her depiction on the mini-series.

The papers read: “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.”

“This action is based firmly on statements of fact which are demonstrably false and the attribution of statements that she never made.” William’s case argues. 

Williams, who authored the 1999 book release My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress, mentions several news outlets in her suit, including Yahoo News, The Huffington Post and the New York Post – all fo whom “commented on Netflix’s hatchet job” of her.

Netflix Inventing Anna
Photo Credit: Netflix

Rachel DeLoache Williams Lawsuit Requests

Williams is requesting a trial by jury along with damages, punitive damages among other requests. There are also cost of suit- claims, stating that “as a
result of Netflix’s false portrayal of her as a vile and contemptible person,” she has been “subjected to a torrent of online abuse, negative in-person interactions, and pejorative characterizations in podcasts, etc. that were based on the series, which establish that Netflix’s actions exposed her to public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace, or induced an evil opinion of her.”

The case acknowledges that Netflix has the “right to have an unpleasant character in the series,” but argues they “should have given the character a
fictitious name and changed the character’s identifying details so that no one would believe that the character was a portrayal ‘of and concerning’ the real Rachel Williams.”

The documents go on to outline Wiliam’s argument that they could have given the part another name. Further stating that “given the easy alternative of protecting her by using a fictional name, the decision to use her real name evidences Netflix’s intent to harm her reputation, thereby justifying the imposition of punitive damages, especially if Netflix made that decision because Williams had sold her rights to the rival Sorokin project being developed by HBO.”

The court documents also highlight that the Rachel character – played by Katie Lowes – is seen using an Instagram account a real photo of Williams
is used, which “thereby blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction, and encouraging viewers to believe that the series depicts the real Rachel Williams.”

It also lists a number of alleged defamatory statements made throughout the show, and states they “were made by Netflix with actual malice, defined as knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for truth or falsity.”

Do you have a take on the lawsuit and Rachel William’s claims? Do you think Netflix should be in the clear or did they misstep with their portrayal of Williams in Inventing Anna? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below.


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