A federal judge has sided with officials from Michael Jackson’s estate and ordered their lawsuit against US network HBO head to arbitration. The estate had charged the channel and moved to take HBO to arbitration over the short film.
According to Variety, Los Angeles U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu ruled on Friday that HBO bosses must adhere to the agreement, meaning the case will now head to arbitration. The judge will make the final ruling near the ending of this month.
Leaving Neverland documented the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accused Jackson of abusing them as children. The network has previously said the 27-year-old agreement-signed when HBO aired Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour-no longer applies.
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 judge later told HBO to file an anti-SLAPP motion. “It was filed to chill speech”, lead attorney Theodore Boutrous argued. He added that HBO, on account of its massive resources, has the power and money to fight it, however, other individuals may not.
“You’re a big company, they’re a wealthy estate”, he told HBO’s lawyers.
SANTA MARIA, CA – JUNE 13: Michael Jackson waves to fans after he is found not guilty on all counts in his child molestation trial at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse June 13, 2005 in Santa Maria, California. The estate has been fighting to get a public arbitration. The judge dismissed HBO’s motion to have the case thrown out.
Jackson’s estate’s attorney, Bryan J. Freedman, issued a statement of his own doubling down on their previous claims.
I’ve never seen a media organization fight so hard to keep a secretBryan Freedman
The estate of Michael Jackson isn’t letting their foot off of HBO. “The Estate will never stop until justice has been obtained”.