It's been a long and drawn out fight but, Michael Jackson's estate is FINALLY making some gains in its lawsuit against HBO.
The King of Pop's estate filed a lawsuit against HBO after they aired the 2019 documentary "Leaving Neverland". The shock-doc made heinous claims that Jackson ALLEGEDLY molested two young fans who he'd grown very close to.
According to Variety, the Jackson estate sued HBO for $100 million, arguing that the documentary violated a 27-year-old non-disparagement clause from a 1992 concert film from the “Dangerous” tour. HBO has argued that the clause is irrelevant to the present dispute and accuses the Jackson estate of seeking to silence victims of sexual abuse.
Last year, a lower court granted the estate’s motion to take the dispute to arbitration, as provided by the contract. HBO appealed, but on Monday 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.
“The contract contained a broad arbitration clause that covers claims that HBO disparaged Jackson in violation of ongoing confidentiality obligations,” the panel ruled. “We may only identify whether the parties agreed to arbitrate such claims; it is for the arbitrator to decide whether those claims are meritorious.”
HBO had sought to avoid arbitration, saying that the network had never intended to grant Jackson and his heirs a veto over anything the network might ever want to say about him. The network’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous, also argued that the 1992 contract had effectively expired once each side fulfilled its obligations.
This is just the beginning because, according to laws, HBO could appeal the decision and have it overturned.
If you happened to catch "Leaving Neverland" when it aired, it definitely said some things and portrayed Jackson in a way that was unseemly. Even though several points during the documentary were debunked, the subject matter was still very defamatory! If there was a clause in place, it definitely was violated by some of the content in the documentary.
Hopefully the Jackson Estate and the Jackson family will soon be able to put this all behind them.