HBO has accused the Michael Jackson estate of trying to use an expired, 26-year-old contract to try to stifle allegations. The same ones that were imposed on him for child sexual abuse.
The Jackson estate filed a $100 million suit against HBO in February, shortly before the network aired “Leaving Neverland.”
HBO is immune from a defamation claim because Jackson is dead. Instead, the estate accused HBO of violating a non-disparagement clause contained in a 1992 contract. This was for a concert film from the “Dangerous” tour. The clause bars HBO from making “disparaging remarks” about Jackson or doing anything. Especially something that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem” Jackson’s image and reputation. The estate is seeking to compel a public arbitration of the issue.
There was opposition on Thursday regarding this issue as well. HBO’s lawyers Daniel Petrocelli and Theodore Boutrous argue that the contract expired once both sides fulfilled their obligations. HBO has not aired the film of the Bucharest concert since October 1992. HBO also contends that the estate’s interpretation of the clause as excessively broad.
Bryan Freedman, an attorney for the estate, said that HBO is “afraid to have this matter adjudicated because it will expose the falsity of the documentary.”