Micheal Jackson’s Estate Wins Appeal In Lawsuit Over HBO’s ‘Leaving Neverland’
A federal appellate court has ruled that an arbitration can proceed between the Micheal Jackson estate and HBO. Leaving Neverland, a 2019 documentary that aired on HBO detailed allegations of child sex abuse against the late singer. The courts also declared that the arbitration agreement, signed 28 days ago by HBO, is still valid on a concert release of Jackson’s Dangerous tour.
The documentary, Leaving Neverland, told the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who alleged that they were sexually assaulted by Jackson when they were minors.
The Jackson estate sued HBO for $100 million for producing and distributing the film. The estate claimed that HBO violated a 1992 agreement, signed for Live in Bucharest, that forbade the cable network from disclosing “any information relating to… [the] personal life” of the late pop star “during or after HBO’s contact” with Jackson. HBO agreed that any disputes in the document’s “expiration or termination” would need to be arbitrated.
HBO has previously argued that they had “fully performed” on the “continuing validity” of the agreement.
“An arbitration clause can still bind the parties, even if the parties fully performed the contract years ago,” read the court memorandum.
The estate believed that “HBO profited off the Dangerous World Tour by airing a ‘documentary’ that (falsely) claims that Jackson was abusing children on the same tour, using some of the same footage also used in Live in Bucharest to make those allegations.”
The recent ruling stated that the validity of the arbitration clause will decide whether not the contract had expired. “We may only identify whether the parties agreed to arbitrate such claims: it is for the arbitrator to decide whether those claims are meritorious,” the memorandum wrote.
Leaving Neverland won the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special.