Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit against The Queen’s Gambit chess player

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen's Gambit

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen’s Gambit
Picture: netflix

Netflix will face a lawsuit against them for defamation filed by a Georgian chess player Nona Gaprindashvili. The costume centers on what Gaprindashvili claims is an inaccurate depiction of his very real career in the fictional miniseries. The Queen’s Bet featuring Anya Taylor Joy.

Following the filing of a complaint in September, netflix requested the dismissal based on the fact that The Queen’s Bet follows a purely fictional character. However, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that they were still responsible for things said on the show about real chess players.

“Netflix does not cite, and the Court is not aware of, any cases that exclude defamation suits for depictions of real people in otherwise fictional works,” Brief of Phillipsareby Variety. “The fact that the series is a work of fiction does not absolve Netflix of liability for defamation if all elements of defamation are otherwise present.”

Not only that, but Gaprindashvili potentially has some solid reasoning on her hands, given the context of the line in the episode, which is used to elevate the status of Taylor-Joy’s character, Beth Harmon. In the suit, the chess legend claims the defamation lies in a line that says she’s “never faced men.” Gaprindashvili calls it “grossly sexist and belittling” as she faced 58 men in 1968.

“An average viewer could easily interpret the line, as Plaintiff claims, as ‘disparaging Plaintiff’s accomplishments’ and ‘carr[ying] the stigma that women wear a badge of inferiority ‘that the fictional American woman Harmon, but not the plaintiff, could overcome,’ the judge continued. “At the very least, the line is dismissive of accomplishments essential to the plaintiff’s reputation.”

“In context, therefore, Netflix ‘create[ed] the impression that [it] was asserting objective facts,” Phillips concludes. “Plaintiff sufficiently pleads falsity because the line is ‘reasonably susceptible of construction which involves a manifestly false assertion of fact’.”

The streamer has yet to respond to the denial, but in the dismissal document, his attorney wrote, “The show’s reference to the plaintiff was meant to acknowledge her, not disparage her.”

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