Brittany Doan settles lawsuit with Texas

Fitness influencer Brittany Doan and the state of Texas have settled a lawsuit, ending a long-running saga that has raised questions about influencers’ liability and obligations to their followers.

Texas is suing the social media personality — whose legal name is Brittany Dawn Davis — for what state officials have called deceptive business practices. The case was scheduled for hearing next week. But on April 25, court records show a settlement was reached.

Davis, who lives in North Texas, was under scrutiny for her fitness business, which she advertised as personalized health and fitness coaching services. Davis will charge clients between $100 and $300 for personalized fitness plans and coaching sessions.

But according to the state’s lawsuit, Davis did not write the plans individually for clients, as she claims, skipped promised one-on-one coaching sessions and misled clients with eating disorders into thinking she had formal training on the topic and would include it in her individual plans. For years, @realBrittanyDawn has positioned herself — to her more than 480,00 Instagram followers and 1.3 million TikTok followers — as an eating disorder survivor who uses nutrition and exercise to recover.

The state filed its lawsuit in 2022, but Davis’ business reputation had already begun to crumble years earlier. In 2018, former customers spoke about their negative experiences. A year later, Davis took down her website — which was subsequently reinstated, though she no longer sells fitness plans — and publicly apologized to Good morning America. Still, critics said it wasn’t enough.

As reported by Buzzfeed News — which has covered Davis’ case extensively — the trial could be historic, making Davis one of the first influencers to have her social media presence and business scrutinized by a lawsuit and marking “the largest public settlement to date in an attitude of accountability in the creative economy.” Now critics are wondering what can stop an influencer from doing something potentially fraudulent again.

Here’s what you need to know.

Who is Brittany Dawn Davis?

Davis is a fitness influencer who has competed in bikini bodybuilding competitions. Her lifestyle and girl-next-door personality quickly gained a following.

Davis has been hailed by her fans as a champion of body positivity as she documents her fitness journey and has garnered partnerships with big brands along the way.

In 2014, she launched her business and told her supporters that her coaching programs could help them get in shape. According to her fitness website — which is still live but doesn’t allow users to add fitness plans to their carts — her packages come with “flexible diet, effective training, balanced life and community support.”

Why was Davis tried?

Over time, clients talked to each other and realized they were getting nearly identical workout plans, generic meal plans, and were being snubbed by Davis for the promised face time. When they complained on Instagram, Davis deleted their comments while touting that he had thousands of customers.

One of those customers, Cory Reali, told Dallas news station WFAA that she paid $115 for one of Davis’ plans but never received specific feedback.

“The red flags started going up,” Reali said. “I was not individualized. I wasn’t part of that “Team British Dawn”. That set me back. It actually pushed me back into my eating disorder.

In 2018, her clients started a Facebook group called “Brittany Dawn Fitness Business Complaints” where they shared their experiences. A petition to “Stop Brittany Dawn’s Fitness Scams” has garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

In February 2019, she posted a video on YouTube saying she was “truly sorry”.

That same month, she also appeared on Good morning America to apologize and admit that she asked the customers she refunded to sign non-disclosure agreements.

“I jumped into an industry that didn’t have an instruction manual,” she said. “I’m basically going through uncharted territory and doing the best I can.”

Davis later deleted his apology video.

The Texas attorney general sued Davis on behalf of the state three years later.

According to the lawsuit, Davis sold thousands of clients her fitness plans for years, even calling herself an “eating disorder warrior,” implying she was an expert on the subject with “special training.” Court documents say at least 14 of Davis’ clients had eating disorders that Davis didn’t address in the training plans she sold them.

What do we know about the settlement?

Details surrounding Davis’ settlement have not been made public. Attorneys for Davis and the Texas attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. According to the Dallas Morning News, a court coordinator said the details will be worked out during a final hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. The attorney general’s office initially wanted up to $1 million in fines and legal fees.

As Kelsey Wickman, who originally covered Davis’ case for Buzzfeed News, noted, the case legitimizes influencers as businessmen who should be held accountable like any other company.

“As it stands now, when customers aren’t happy with the products that influencers have sold them, they’re often rejected because they bought into the fictional narrative that social media makes so easy to create,” Wickman said. “This lawsuit by the state of Texas took the testimony of more than a dozen people who said they felt defrauded by Davis and treated their stories with the same seriousness as a physical business. But without a verdict, the case is unlikely to have a wide impact.

The dawn is not recent addressed the media regarding the lawsuit, but teasing Brittany Dawn Fitness is telling all on her social media channels and on her new podcast.

Where is Brittany Dawn Davis now?

Davis, now 32, remains active on social media, but has recently shifted her focus to faith, posting about Christianity and her new journey as a foster parent.

“Fitness and health are no longer my identity. My identity is in Christ,” she said in a video about her rebranding.

Moving away from his era of accountability, Davis now also casts himself as a victim of “cancellation culture.”

“The world was watching me while … I was being labeled with every weird, fake, scathing headline possible during the crisis,” she said in an episode of her podcast, Cut and called. “No one wants to go through a lawsuit … but guess what? Happens. Life happens.”

By shifting her persona from fitness to Christian lifestyle content, Wickman noted, it’s possible that many of Davis’ new followers had no idea she was on trial for deceptive business practices.

Although Davis no longer sells fitness programs, last year she started She Lives Freed, a Christian ministry that hosts conferences and retreats that range from about $100 to $600. She also maintains an Amazon storefront and sells Lightroom ready photos online.

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