In the weeks after HBO aired its controversial documentary "Leaving Neverland," which centers on allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, the pop icon's estate has been busy taking legal action against the network.
After the documentary made its debut on March 3, Michael Jackson's estate filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO, claiming that the decision to release the film violates a contract that was made with the King of Pop prior to his death. On Thursday (May 2), court documents reveal that HBO has asked the court to dismiss the suit.
As reported, the premium cable company issued an opposition to the suit, claiming that the non-disparagement provision found in the 1992 agreement is not credible, as the contract is both "more than 26 years expired and entirely unrelated."
"Petitioners' purported basis for their claims is a single non-disparagement sentence buried in a confidentiality rider to a more than 26-year-old expired and entirely unrelated contract," the attorneys representing HBO shared in a statement. "Petitioners' effort to 'publicly' arbitrate these issues appears to be part of a transparent effort to bolster their publicity campaign against the documentary, but that undertaking is as poorly conceived as the claims themselves."
The 23-page filing maintains that "Leaving Neverland"is categorically outside the scope of the confidentiality provisions. In other words, the estate of Michael Jackson cannot prove that any information HBO obtained during the course of the 1992 agreement was provided to the filmmakers.
One of the lawyers representing the Jackson estate issued a counter statement to Deadline.
"HBO's opposition clearly shows that they are afraid to have this matter adjudicated," Bryan Freedman shared. "The Jackson Estate wants an arbitration open to the public for all to see. If HBO thinks the contract does not apply or is expired then why are they opposing adjudicating it? The reason why is because they know they were complicit in this one-sided farce of a money grab that clearly violates the agreement."
As reported by Deadline, Federal Judge George Wu is set to hear arguments from both parties on May 13.
To see HBO's opposition filing in full, please see here.