An appeals court handed a win to Michael Jackson's estate that will allow it to pursue arbitration in the lawsuit over the 2019 HBO documentary.
The battle continues between MJ and HBO.
The King of Pop’s estate sued HBO for $100 million and argued that the documentary violated a 27-year-old confidentiality clause from 1992's Dangerous concert film. HBO claimed the clause is irrelevant and that the Jackson estate is attempting to silence victims of sexual abuse.
Last year, a lower court granted the estate’s motion to take the dispute to arbitration. HBO appealed, but on Monday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the lower court ruling, even though the panel said the suit could be “frivolous.”
"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."
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HBO’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous, argued that the 1992 contract had effectively expired once each side fulfilled its obligations. The panel rejected that argument.
Jackson’s attorneys, Howard Weitzman and Jonathan Steinsapir, issued a statement praising the ruling.
“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.”