A 1992 non-disparagement agreement is at the core of the ongoing legal battle.
A Federal Judge in California has ruled in favor of the Michael Jackson Estate in a $100 million lawsuit brought against HBO.
Filed in March of this year, the suit claims HBO violated a non-disparagement agreement from 1992 by airing the controversial two-part documentary, Leaving Neverland (which took home a Creative Arts Emmy last week.) The agreement was tied to the broadcasting rights for Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour special, stating “HBO shall not make any disparaging remarks concerning [Michael Jackson] … or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation of [Jackson.]”
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According to Billboard, U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu ruled that HBO must abide the 1992 agreement, which would effectively carry the case out of the federal court system and into some form of arbitration.
And though he sided with the estate in their “messy” and “unique” case against the network, in oral arguments, Wu was confident that regardless of his decision, the losing party would appeal to a higher court, potentially taking the case as far as The Supreme Court. “No matter who wins or loses it’s going to be taken up on appeal,” Wu told the court. “It doesn’t matter what I do,” he added.
On to the next round.