This is a list about MJ related lawsuits. I added short summary of case description and latest developments in each case for ease of following. I will be updating this list every few months.
May 2015 Update : http://dailymichael.com/news/299-mj-related-lawsuit-updates-may-2015
January 2015 Update: http://dailymichael.com/news/290-mj-related-lawsuit-updates-january-2015
November 2014 Update : http://dailymichael.com/news/286-mj-related-lawsuit-updates-november-2014
MJ Estate v. IRS (Link)
Description:This lawsuit is about the estate tax dispute. IRS is demanding $731 Million in estate tax. MJ Estate challenged IRS by filing a lawsuit.
Latest developments: Parties are still in settlement talks. On April 27, 2015 a second stipulation of settled issues were filed with the court - signaling parties continue to settle disputed issues. Parties filed a status report at the end of June. US Tax Court writes parties are reporting "good progress" in settling valuation disputes. Next status report is due November 2015.
Noval Williams Films v. MJ Estate (Link)
Description: This is a dispute about “Last Photo Shoot” documentary. The documentary uses footage from two photo shoots from 2007. It also includes some photos. Estate believes some content are owned by MJ and MJ didn’t give consent for release of the footage. Noval Williams is seeking a declaratory relief that they aren’t infringing copyrights. Case has been filed in New York and Estate has filed a motion to dismiss the case or in alternative move it to California. Estate also filed a motion to disqualify Noval Williams Films attorney Markovich who also happens to be a producer of the movie as well as an owner and manager at Noval Williams Films.
Latest developments: No new developments since last update. Parties are still waiting for the court's ruling about location issue and Noval Williams Films attorney. In July 2015, lawyer for Noval Williams has sent the court a letter reminding the judge that parties have been waiting for a decision since December 2014.
Optimum Productions (MJ Estate) v. Premiere Props and Calson Ventures LLC
Description:Premiere Props auctioned 1984 Victory tour photos. Estate filed a lawsuit claiming Michael Jackson hired the photographers for the tour and MJ owned rights to the photos.
Latest developments: Through initial discovery Estate learned Calson Ventures LLC / Bruce Hutchison is the consignor of the photographs. During a deposition of Premiere Props, Lee Durst was identified as either owner or representative of Calson Ventures. Estate deposed Durst on June, 2015 however there are several disputes regarding Durst deposition. Estate states Durst hasn't complied with many requests. Parties are trying to resolve these disputes, if not they might file motion to compel.
(Note: Lee Durst was Howard Mann's lawyer. When Vaccaro declared bankruptcy and auctioned his Jackson memoralibia recently, MJ items were missing. Vaccaro accused Mann of removing MJ items without his permission. Mann responded that he paid and bought MJ items and later gave it to his lawyer Lee Durst as a payment for his legal services.)
Wade Robson v. MJ Estate and Wade Robson v. Doe 1 / MJ Companies (Link)
Description:Robson has made a childhood sexual abuse claims against MJ Estate (in probate court) and Doe1/ MJ Companies (in civil court).
Latest developments: In civil court Robson has been given the chance to amend his complaint and Estate filed a demurrer. Demurrer hearing happened on July 20, 2015. Judge took the matter under submission and parties are waiting for judge's decision. Estate wants to depose the doctor who wrote the "certificate of merit" for Robson's civil complaint. Robson filed a motion to quash.
In probate court, Estate's summary judgment motion to dismiss Robson's late probate claim was granted on May 26, 2015. Robson lawyers stated they would appeal the ruling. No appeal has been filed yet.
James Safechuck v. MJ Estate and James Safechuck v. Doe Defendants
Description:Safechuck have filed a late claim against MJ Estate claiming childhood sexual abuse (in probate court) and Doe defendants (in civil court).
Latest developments:In probate court Safechuck has been given a chance to amend his complaint and Estate filed a demurrer. Demurrer hearing happened on July 20, 2015. Judge took the matter under submission and parties are waiting for judge's decision.
In civil court, judge reviewed the initial filings and allowed the start of the civil case. This will start the whole process (complaint, demurrer and so on) for the civil case.
Quincy Jones v. MJ Estate / Sony (Link)
Description:Quincy Jones has filed a $10 Million lawsuit for breach of contract and unpaid royalties .
Latest developments:Parties have resolved their discovery disagreements and started discovery. As of July 2015 written discovery is close to completion. Jones has hired an auditor to prepare a report about all unpaid or underpaid royalties. Once the report completed, Estate and Sony plans to prepare a report in response. Parties agreed to take part in mediation. In order to have enough time to finish discovery and take part in mediation parties asked the trial to be delayed to February 2016.
MJ Estate v. Tohme & Tohme v. MJ Estate (Link)
Description: Tohme filed a complaint against MJ Estate asking for fees he’s owed. These were 10% from Neverland refinancing, 10% from any future transaction about Neverland, 15% of income from services he provided (plus interest when applicable). Estate had also filed a complaint against Tohme asking for accounting all actions and transactions done by Tohme, return of any money and property (of Michael) Tohme has and cancellation of the three agreements Michael had with Tohme.
Latest developments:In Tohme's complain against Estate : Finally after 20 months of waiting Labor Commissioner finalized their decision about Estate’s petition based on California’s Talent Agency Act to cancel three agreements MJ had with Tohme. Labor Commisioner stated Tohme wasn't licensed as a talent agent and therefore Tohme's involvement in TII concert deal negotitions was illegal according Talent Agency Act. Based on illegal activities Tohme engaged per Talent Agency Act, Labor Commissioner cut Tohme's fee in half (to 7.5%). Estate has filed a request for a trial de novo - asking the LA Superior Court for a new trial in this issue (as if the Labor Commissioner proceedings didn't happen). Previously Neverland finder's fee had been put on calendar, discovery had started and a trial has been tentatively set for May 2016.
In Estate's complaint against Tohme: No new developments. Last information was that Estate withdrew their 9630 motion (asking Judge to allow Branca to act alone in Estate's complaint against Tohme)
Hologram USA v. MJ Estate and Hologram USA v. Cirque du Soleil (Link)
Description:Hologram USA filed lawsuits against MJ Estate (for Billboard awards show MJ Hologram) and Cirque du Soleil (for MJ hologram at MJ One) for infringing patented hologram technology. Lawsuits also include several other parties in addition to MJ Estate and Cirque du Soleil.
Latest developments: Cirque du Soleil and Hologram USA reached to a binding settlement agreement. Settlement details are confidential and sealed.
In Hologram USA v. MJ Estate case there had been a review request with US Patent and Trademark office questioning if hologram technology which is originated from Pepper's Ghost technique can be even patented. Defendants had previously asked for stay the civil case pending the decision of US Patent and Trademark Office. On July 2015, defendants voluntarily withdraw their motion to stay the civil case. Parties will sit down for court mandated settlement conference in mid August.
Broderick Morris / Quadree El-Amin/ Raymone Bain/ Adean King v. MJ Estate
Description:Parties claim they helped MJ to revive his career after 2005 and in return were given shares from “Michael Jackson Company”. Estate claims MJ was the sole owner of “Michael Jackson Company”.
Latest developments: Hearings are ongoing.
MJ Fan v. MJ Estate / Sony / Cascio / Porte (Link)
Description: A MJ fan has sued MJ Estate, Sony Music, Eddie Cascio and James Porte for 3 songs on “Michael” album.
Latest developments: Other than regular status hearings, no new developments. Next status hearing is at August 2015.
Sidney Earl Swanson v. MJJ Productions / Sony / Rooney / Timbaland (Link)
Description:Swanson has sued MJJ Productions, Sony Music, Cory Rooney and Timbaland claiming 2014 version of “Chicago” infringes his song “Come Home on the Move”
Latest developments: Parties have been served with the lawsuit and MJ Estate and Sony filed their inital apparances / responses. Cory Rooney and Timbaland failed to respond to the complaint in time. Swanson initially asked for entry of default against Rooney and Timbaland. However Rooney and Timbaland eventually filed their apparances and the default judgment request has been set aside. Rooney and Timbaland have until end of July to respond to the complaint. On the other hand Estate and Sony have been engaing in informal settlement talks and parties also agreed to take part in mediation. Trial is scheduled for June 2016.
Genenis Group v. MJ Estate
Description: Genenis Group and Kevin Kinsey claim they entered into an oral agreement with MJ in August 2007 to find funding for refinancing of Neverland and Michael agreed to pay them 10% finder's fee. Genesis Group claim they found an investor to loan $46 million to Michael but Michael never signed the necessary documents to close the escrow and the money was returned to the investor. Genesis Group is asking for $4.58 M as finder's fee.
Latest developments: Estate has filed a demurrer asking Genesis Group's lawsuit to be dismissed as they failed to timely file a creditor's claim against MJ Estate. Estate states they provided notice of administration of the Estate to Genesis Group on December 2009 and this gave Genesis Group until February 2010 to timely file a creditor's claim. However Genesis Group did not file a creditor's claim until June 2010.
Previously Resolved lawsuits
Katherine Jackson v. AEG
Verdict in favor of AEG. Both Court of Appeals and Supreme Court denied Katherine Jackson's appeal request.
Lloyds v. MJ Estate / AEG (Link)
Settled. This was a dispute about the insurance policy for “This is it” concerts. Parties settled.
Demann v. MJ Estate (Link)
Settled. Demann – former manager of MJ – has sued MJ Estate over unpaid commissions. Case settled.
Michael Amir Williams v. MJ Estate / AEG (Link)
Dismissed. Williams filed a class action breach of contract lawsuit against AEG (and later MJ Estate). Lawsuit is dismissed and Williams was ordered to pay AEG and MJ Estate’s legal costs.
Michael Jonzun v. MJ Estate / Paul Anka / Sony/ AEG (Link)
Dismissed. Jonzun claimed he owns one-third of “This is it” song.
John Landis and Ola Ray v. MJ Estate
Settled. This was about unpaid royalties from “Thriller”. Parties settled.
MJ Estate v. HTWF (Link)
Settled right before trial. Later HTWF tried to rescind the settlement and filed an appeal. Appeal has been denied.
MJ Estate v. Howard Mann / Henry Vaccaro
Settled after Mann/Vaccaro lost at summary judgment. Mann and Vaccaro has been ordered to pay $2.5 Million to MJ Estate. Vaccaro has filed for bankruptcy.
Bain v. MJ Estate (Link)
Dismissed. Bain filed a lawsuit asking for $44 Million from the deals she helped. She lost the case at summary judgment stage. Bain filed an appeal but it was denied.
Bravado v. Rouas
Settled. Bravado filed a lawsuit against Rouas for infringing trademarks/ copyrights in their MJ related perfumes. Case settled with Rouas paying damages to Bravado. Settlement also said Rouas cannot use MJ’s name and likeliness or any MJ trademarks.
LaPointe v. MJ Estate
Settled. This was a lawsuit about cancelled 2009 Julien’s Auction.