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HBO loses appeal in $100 million lawsuit to Michael Jackson Estate

  • Published at 03:51 pm December 15th, 2020
Leaving Neverland Collected

Michael Jackson Estate sued HBO for $100 million over the making of documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’, which accuses the singer of sexually assaulting two boys, aged 7 and 10

On December 14, an appeals court ruled in favor of the estate of Michael Jackson in its legal battle against HBO. The estate argued that HBO violated a 27-year-old non-disparagement clause from a 1992 concert film by making a documentary in 2019 that degraded the late singer’s reputation.

HBO accused the estate of trying to silence Michael Jackson’s alleged victims of sexual assault, and said that the non-disparagement clause has become ‘irrelevant.’

The estate’s motion was recommended by a lower court last year, to be taken to arbitration. According to Variety, on December 14, “a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the lower court ruling. The judges conceded that the suit may be “frivolous,” as HBO has claimed, but said it will be up to an arbitrator to make that call."

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“The contract contained a broad arbitration clause that covers claims that HBO disparaged Jackson in violation of ongoing confidentiality obligations,” the three-judge panel stated. “We may only identify whether the parties agreed to arbitrate such claims; it is for the arbitrator to decide whether those claims are meritorious.”

 “An arbitration clause can still bind the parties, even if the parties fully performed the contract years ago,” they added.

Jackson’s attorneys, Howard Weitzman and Jonathan Steinsapir, responded to the ruling in a public statement. 

“The trial judge and now the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have unanimously rejected HBO’s arguments. In the court’s own words, HBO ‘agreed that it would not make any disparaging remarks concerning Jackson.’ It’s time for HBO to answer for its violation of its obligations to Michael Jackson.”

HBO has not commented on the ruling yet.

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