Michael Jackson’s estate filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO before they aired the documentary Leaving Neverland, where Wade Robson and James Safechuck gave accounts of the King of Pop molesting them at his infamous ranch. Now HBO is firing back.
HBO’s attorneys, Theodore Boutrous Jr. and Daniel Petrocelli, filed a motion to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the lawsuit violates their first amendment rights, The Wrap reports.
“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’ claims fail because they violate the First Amendment, Due Process Clause and public policy, and in any event, the contract on which they are based is inapplicable and expired,” reads the motion that was filed.
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HBO also said this lawsuit should be dismissed due to California’s anti-SLAPP law, which prohibits someone from filing a complaint against someone exercising their first amendment rights.
HBO is also asking for their legal fees to be covered as well.
“California’s Anti-SLAPP law empowers—indeed requires—this Court to put an end to this litigation now. Accordingly, the Court should strike Plaintiffs’ Petition and claims with prejudice, and award attorneys’ fees and costs to HBO pursuant to the anti-SLAPP law’s mandatory attorneys’ fees clause for prevailing defendants.”
The estate claims that the network violated a non-disparagement agreement that was signed in 1992 between them and Jackson, which they deny.
The next court hearing is Sept. 19th.