'The Queen's Gambit' Lawsuit Still Going Strong After Judge Refuses To Dismiss Case
Much unlike Beth Harmon in, well, pretty much every chess match she played throughout the entirety of The Queen's Gambit, it seems Netflix didn't snag the legal checkmate they were likely hoping for after a judge refused to dismiss a defamation lawsuit surrounding the beloved mini-series on Thursday.
Last September IRL chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili – a.k.a the first woman to ever earn the title of International Grandmaster – sued Netflix over a line in the series which she says wrongfully depicts the scope of her real-life chess career. “The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex,” an announcer says as Harmon plays at the Moscow International in the show's last episode. “And even that's not unique in Russia. There's Nona Gaprindashvili, but she's the female world champion and has never faced men."
Considering that by that same year Gaprindashvili had competed against 59 men, her legal team described the quip as being both “manifestly false” and “grossly sexist and belittling."
“Netflix brazenly and deliberately lied about Gaprindashvili's achievements for the cheap and cynical purpose of 'heightening the drama' by making it appear that its fictional hero had managed to do what no other woman, including Gaprindashvili, had done,” the filing read.
Although Netflix argued that as the mini-series is, in fact, fictional, their depiction of Gaprindashvili falls under First Amendment protections and moved to have the case dismissed, it seems U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips begged to differ. In her decision, Judge Philips wrote that even though the events and many characters in the show were made up, misrepresenting a real-life player like Gaprindashvili is still grounds for a defamation lawsuit.
“As an initial matter, Netflix does not cite, and the Court is not aware, of any cases precluding defamation claims for the portrayal of real persons in otherwise fictional works,” the judge explained in her decision. “The fact that the Series was a fictional work does not insulate Netflix from liability for defamation if all the elements of defamation are otherwise present.”
So folks, take it from Netflix, even in fiction you sure as hell better get your facts straight.
Top Image: Netflix