Netflix Loses Inventing Anna Battle In Court, Lawsuit Moves Forward

By Nikola Pajtic | Published

netflix inventing anna

Netflix failed to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Rachel DeLoache Williams, a former friend of the convicted con artist Anna Sorokin (Anna Delvey). Williams alleges that the Netflix series Inventing Anna portrays her negatively, damaging her reputation. This Tuesday, a New York court ruled that a lawsuit against Netflix can proceed, despite the streamer arguing the show’s portrayal falls under artistic license and is protected by the First Amendment. They further claimed the depiction aligned with Williams’ own account of events.

The Lawsuit

netflix inventing anna

Back in August 2022, Rachel DeLoache Williams sued Netflix for an alleged defamatory depiction of her character in Shonda Rhimes’ mini-series hit. She has claimed over 15 instances of mischaracterizations that damage her reputation. This includes an allegedly false interpretation of her trip to Morocco with Sorokin, which has become a central point of the lawsuit.

Rachel DeLoache Williams

Williams, who was also a victim of Anna Sorokin’s cons, authored an article and a book on her friendship with Sorokin until their friendship fell apart and Sorokin scammed her for $62,000. 

While Sorokin is now under house arrest, Williams is fighting her own battles with the streaming giant. The Netflix show Inventing Anna portrays Williams abandoning a distressed Sorokin in Morocco. However, Williams vehemently denies this, stating Sorokin knew about the early departure all along.

This disagreement exposes the heart of the lawsuit: can specific aspects of the show be demonstrably proven true or false?

Netflix’s Defense

netflix inventing anna

Netflix argues the show’s portrayal falls under the protection of artistic freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Their lawyers contend that creative license is essential for artists to interpret real-life events and the actions of those involved, like Sorokin. They argue that creators need artistic freedom to explore such controversial cases through fictionalized storytelling.

Williams’ Argument

Williams’ legal team claims the portrayal of her in Netflix’s Inventing Anna is not only completely different from what happened in real life, but that it paints her in a negative light, including making her seem greedy and disloyal.

⁤⁤The lawsuit alleges that Netflix deliberately misrepresented Williams’ character for dramatic effect. They continued to say that by depicting actions and statements that never happened, the series turned her from a victim into a villain, thereby damaging her reputation. 

Moreover, in the lawsuit, Williams claims Sorokin’s actions are made to appear less criminal, making her shine in her own anti-hero light.

The Ruling

The judge on the case, Colm F. Connolly focused primarily on the Morocco trip scene. This turned the ruling in Williams’s favor, stating that the portrayal of Sorokin’s emotional state and whether Williams abandoned her are verifiable facts as opposed to creative interpretations. 

Because of this, the lawsuit against Netflix got the green light thanks to this particular Inventing Anna scene, as it could fall under defamation law. 

Williams has already moved forward with having her attorney issue subpoenas to Katie Lowes–the actress who portrayed her character in the series–and Sorokin. 

Source: Variety