The estate of Michael Jackson has scored a victory in the lawsuit battle over the shocking 2019 HBO doc “Leaving Neverland” that highlighted two young men who claim to have been sexually abused by the pop star when they were children.
On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s last year ruling that granted the estate’s request to take the dispute with HBO to arbitration. The judges said that an arbitrator would decide whether or not the estate’s lawsuit was valid.
The King of Pop’s estate brought up a $100 million lawsuit against HBO, claiming that the two men at the center of the documentary lied about being sexually abused by Jackson. Since the estate could not sue for defamation considering that Jackson is dead, they went another route with the suit, presenting a non-disparagement clause from the 1992 concert film from Jackson’s “Dangerous” tour. HBO fired back at the suit, accusing the estate of merely trying to bury the sexual abuse claims.
Nevertheless, the appeals court did not see it that way.
“The trial judge and now the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have unanimously rejected HBO’s arguments,” they said. “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.”
HBO had previously sought a dismissal of the lawsuit altogether, which a judge denied.