Judge tentatively rules in favour of Michael Jackson Estate in HBO Leaving Neverland dispute

The lawsuit alleges that by co-producing and airing Leaving Neverland, HBO is breaching an old contract for showing Michael Jackson in a concert in Bucharest

FP Staff September 20, 2019 11:52:15 IST
Judge tentatively rules in favour of Michael Jackson Estate in HBO Leaving Neverland dispute

In the long-standing legal battle between HBO and Michael Jackson's estate with regards the documentary Leaving Neverland, a federal judge has tentatively ruled in favour of the estate, reports Variety. The estate had charged the channel and moved to take HBO to arbitration over the short film.

Judge George Wu passed a provisional ruling on Thursday, denying the channel's claims to dismiss the estate's legal case. A final hearing is expected sometime at the end of September.

Judge tentatively rules in favour of Michael Jackson Estate in HBO Leaving Neverland dispute

A still from Leaving Neverland documentary at HBO. Image from Twitter/HBO

The explosive film tells the story of two men who claim they met Jackson as children when the singer was at the height of his fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They allege that Jackson sexually abused them, causing them trauma lasting into their adulthood.

However, Jackson's estate has denied all the allegations against the late pop icon and is suing HBO and parent company Time Warner for $100 million, claiming that the cable outlet violated a non-disparagement clause in a contract.

The lawsuit filed in late February alleges that by co-producing and airing Leaving Neverland, the channel is breaching an old contract for showing Jackson in a concert in Bucharest — the Dangerous Tour, in which it agreed not to disparage the late singer.

The suit also stated that the contract covered future disparagement of Jackson and that the documentary allegedly shows the singer molested children on the Dangerous Tour that the concert footage came from. It has asked the court to order arbitration and also stated that the damage could exceed $100 million.

Jackson's family's central criticism has been the film’s failure to talk to family members or other defenders of Jackson, whom they insist never molested a child. They said it spreads falsehoods about a man not alive to defend himself.

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