The 2019 documentary, “Leaving Neverland” stirred up considerable controversy. The film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired later that year on HBO concerns James Safechuck and Wade Robson who claim that they were sexually abused as children by the late Michael Jackson. The film led to a high-profile legal battle that was appealed and ended up being decided by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.
John Branca Attorney
John Branca age 70, the legendary music attorney who handled some of the most famous and successful musicians of all time, was Jackson’s lawyer and currently the executor of his estate. Branca knew Jackson better than most people and considered the legend a friend as well as a client. Perhaps his greatest achievement on Jackson’s behalf was putting together the deal that won Jackson the rights to his entire recording catalog. Branca is recognized by many in the industry as the best music lawyer in the business.
John Branca attorney, along with the Jackson estate called “Leaving Neverland” a “tabloid character assassination”. Branca was adamant that the alleges of abuse were lies. This lead to a lawsuit against HBO seeking $100 million in damages.
The Legal Battle
The Jackson estate was not able to sue HBO for defamation as Jackson is deceased. However, John Branca attorney and the estate’s legal team found grounds for a suit. In 1992, HBO broadcast Michael Jackson’s concert film, “Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour“. Written into the contract that granted permission to HBO to broadcast the film was a clause that stipulated HBO was never to publically disparage Jackson’s image. The suit alleged that HBO created lies shown in the film for financial reasons. The suit sought litigation with HBO in public arbitration for the awarding of the $100 million in damages.
HBO filed a motion to dismiss the suit. The dismissal was denied in September 2019 by Judge George Wu. John Branca attorney stated that HBO was suppressing the other side of the story and further stated, “I’ve never seen a media organization fight so hard to keep a secret”. The Jackson estate won the initial case. HBO appealed and won, but eventually, the 9th Circuit Court upheld the original decision and the estate was able to compel arbitration.
John Branca attorney has had an amazing career in representing music legends. The saga of the Jackson estate vs. HBO may be the most bizarre story of his professional life.