HBO Files Motion To Dismiss $100 Million ‘Leaving Neverland’ Lawsuit From Michael Jackson’s Family
Michael Jackson fans aren’t the only ones who came for HBO after its Leaving Neverland documentary aired on the network on January 25. The documentary, hosted by Oprah Winfrey, featured two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who said Jackson sexually abused them at his Neverland estate when they were boys.
The late singer’s family filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO in February. The estate said that the documentary was a violation of a non-disparagement clause in a contract that HBO and the estate signed back in 1992. That contract allowed HBO to premiere Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour. The estate said in a statement,
“A contract doesn’t expire just because you wish it so as HBO does here. There is no expiration term in the contract, nor does it terminate as a matter of law. Likewise, the First Amendment does not protect HBO from willfully and blatantly violating its contractual obligations, as it did here. The Estate of Michael Jackson is confident that HBO’s latest attempt to avoid its contractual obligations will fail,
HBO now wants the court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the documentary is protected under its First Amendment Rights. It filed a motion Friday and said,
“HBO’s distribution of this documentary–which recounts the personal stories of two individuals who describe in detail how, as young boys, they were sexually abused for years by Michael Jackson, arguably one of the world’s most famous public figures–constitutes protected activity under the First Amendment and California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.”
“Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate a reasonable probability of prevailing because enforcement of their contract claims would violate HBO’s First Amendment and due process rights, and violate California public policies.”
It also said the 1992 contract has expired and is irrelevant to this case.
A hearing is scheduled for September 19, which interestingly enough is just days before the Primetime Emmy Awards premiere on September 22. The Leaving Neverland documentary garnered five nominations: Documentary or Nonfiction Special, Picture Editing – Nonfiction, Directing – Documentary/Nonfiction, Sound Editing – Nonfiction, and Sound Mixing for Nonfiction.
Do you think the case should be dismissed? Tell us in the comments!