An appeals court ruled in favor of the estate of Michael Jackson in its battle over the 2019 HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which accused the late singer of sexually abusing two young boys.
When it was announced the documentary would be heading to the streaming platform, the Jackson estate sued HBO for $100 million. The estate argued that the documentary violated a 27-year-old non-disparagement clause from a 1992 concert film from the “Dangerous” tour.
The streaming network argued that the clause is inapplicable to the present dispute and says the family was just trying to silence the men who offered their alleged stories during the doc.
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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 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.”
Jackson’s attorneys, Howard Weitzman and Jonathan Steinsapir issued a statement, celebrating the verdict.
“The trial judge and now the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have unanimously rejected HBO’s arguments,” they said via Variety. “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.”