Kansas residents who watched the recent HBO documentary ‘Finding Neverland” are undoubtedly aware that it did not paint a very flattering picture of Michael Jackson. The deceased pop star’s estate was not pleased when HBO announced that it planned to air the film and filed a lawsuit in February claiming that the network violated an agreement it signed with Jackson in 1992. The agreement allowed HBO to show footage of a Michael Jackson concert that took place in Bucharest if it agreed to not disparage the singer in the future.
HBO wants to move the case to arbitration and says that ‘Finding Neverland” was released long after their 1992 deal with Jackson had been terminated. The network disputes the estate’s interpretation of the 1992 agreement and also maintains that the documentary only mentioned the Bucharest concert in passing. HBO’s efforts to resolve the case in arbitration are based on a provision of the 1992 agreement that calls for all legal issues arising from it to be settled in a private court.
Jackson’s estate is seeking $100 million in damages for what it calls ‘reprehensible disparagement” to the late singer’s image and legacy. The lawsuit alleges that HBO knowingly aired statements from two individuals in the film that contradicted what they had previously said under oath.
This case reveals how complex contract disputes can be, and it demonstrates that attorneys may argue that an agreement is invalid while filing a motion based on its provisions. To avoid disputes such as this one, lawyers may draft contracts carefully. Attorneys could also take steps to ensure that all the parties involved understand fully what is expected of them and the consequences they could face for failing to fulfill their obligations.
Source: Complex, HBO Disputes Breach of Contract Claim From Michael Jackson’s Estate in $100 Million Lawsuit, Jose Martinez, June 5, 2019