Brittany Dawn settles lawsuit with Texas

Fitness influencer Brittany Dawn and the state of Texas have settled a lawsuit, ending a years-long saga that raised questions about influencer accountability and obligations to their followers.

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

Davis, who lives in North Texas, faced scrutiny for her fitness business, which she marketed as customized health and fitness coaching services. Davis would charge customers between $100 to $300 for personalized fitness plans and coaching sessions.

But, according to the state’s lawsuit, Davis didn’t write the plans individually for customers like she claimed to, skipped promised one-on-one coaching sessions, and misled clients with eating disorders, suggesting that she had formal training on the subject and would fold it into her individualized plans. For years, @realBrittanyDawn positioned herself — to her more than 480,00 Instagram and 1.3 million TikTok followers — as an eating disorder survivor who used nutrition and exercise to recover.

The state filed its lawsuit in 2022, but Davis’ business reputation had already started unraveling years prior. In 2018, former clients spoke out about their negative experiences. A year later, Davis took down her website — which has since been restored, though she no longer sells fitness plans — and made a public apology on Good Morning America. Still, critics said it wasn’t enough.

As reported by Buzzfeed News — which covered Davis’ lawsuit extensively — the trial could’ve been historic, making Davis one of the first influencers to have her social media presence and business probed by a jury trial and marking “the biggest public reckoning so far regarding accountability in the creator economy.” Now critics are wondering what’s to stop the 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 competed in bodybuilding bikini competitions. Her lifestyle content and girl-next-door persona quickly grew a following.

Davis was endorsed by her fans as a champion for body positivity, as she documented her fitness journey and gathered partnerships with notable brands along the way,

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

Why was Davis being sued?

Over time, customers spoke to each other and realized they were receiving near identical workout plans, generic meal plans, and being snubbed by Davis for their promised face time. When they complained on Instagram, Davis would delete their comments, all while touting that she had thousands of clients.

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

“The red flags started to go up,” Reali said. “I was not individualized. I was not part of this ‘Team Brittany Dawn.’ It set me back. It actually pushed me back into my eating disorder.”

In 2018, her customers created a Facebook group called “Brittany Dawn Fitness Business Complaints” where they would share their experiences. A petition to “Stop Brittany Dawn Fitness Scams” collected more than 15,000 signatures.

In February 2019, she posted a YouTube video where she said she was “sincerely sorry.”

That same month, she also appeared on Good Morning America to apologize and admitted to asking clients she refunded to sign non-disclosure agreements.

“I jumped into an industry that had no instruction manual,” she said. “I’m basically going through uncharted territory, and I’m doing the best that I can to the best of my ability.”

Davis later deleted her apology video.

The Texas Attorney General filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state against Davis three years later.

According to the lawsuit, for years Davis sold thousands of clients her fitness plans, even calling herself an “eating disorder soldier,” suggesting she was an expert on the subject with “special training.” Court documents said that at least 14 of Davis’ customers had eating disorders that Davis failed to properly address in the coaching plans she sold them.

What do we know about the settlement?

Details surrounding Davis’ settlement have not been made public. Davis’ attorneys 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 details will be nailed down during a final hearing which has not been scheduled yet. The Attorney General’s Office was initially seeking up to $1 million in penalties and court fees.

As noted by Kelsey Weekman, who initially covered Davis’ lawsuit for Buzzfeed News, the lawsuit legitimized influencers as businesspeople that should be held as accountable as any other company.

“As it stands, when customers aren’t happy with the products influencers have sold them, they are often dismissed for buying into the fictional narrative that social media makes it so easy to craft,” Weekman said. “This lawsuit from the state of Texas took the testimonies of more than a dozen people who said they felt deceived by Davis and treated their stories with the same seriousness as a brick-and-mortar business. But without a verdict, the case is not likely to have a broad impact.”

Dawn has not recently addressed the media regarding the lawsuit, but has teased a Brittany Dawn Fitness tell-all on her social media channels and in her new podcast.

Where is Brittany Dawn Davis now?

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

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

Moving away from her accountability era, Davis now also postures herself as a “cancel culture” victim.

“The world watched me as I … got labeled every cringey, false, scathing title possible during the fallout,” she said on an episode of her podcast, Chiseled and Called. “No one wants to go through a lawsuit … but guess what? It happens. Life happens.”

By pivoting her persona from fitness to Christian lifestyle content, Weekman noted, it’s possible many of Davis’ new followers will have no idea she faced a lawsuit for deceptive business practices.

While Davis doesn’t sell fitness programs anymore, last year she launched She Lives Freed — a Christian ministry that hosts conferences and retreats that range in admission from around $100 to $600. She also maintains an Amazon Storefront and sells Lightroom photo presets online.