HBO scored a victory in court this week in its dispute with the estate of Michael Jackson over the pay-cable channel’s documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which details alleged child sex abuse by Jackson.
The Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq., reports that a federal judge rejected a motion from Jackson’s estate to send the case to an arbitrator.
“The Michael Jackson Estate sued HBO shortly before ‘Leaving Neverland’ premiered March 3,” THR notes. “The plaintiff alleges that the film constitutes a breach of a non-disparagement clause in a 27-year-old agreement, one that provided the pay network with rights to air a televised concert following the release of Jackson’s album ‘Dangerous.'”
THR adds that the estate “doesn’t actually wish to litigate in open court. Instead, Jackson’s heirs invoked an arbitration clause in that old deal and aimed to get a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to compel a showdown before the American Arbitration Association.”
The report notes that HBO has characterized the estate’s legal endeavor as a “transparent effort to bolster their publicity campaign against the documentary” by skirting legal precedent against posthumous defamation claims.