HBO filed a motion Friday to dismiss the Jackson Estate’s $100 million lawsuit against its “Leaving Neverland” documentary, citing the First Amendment as protection.
The Estate has angrily opposed the documentary, calling it “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.”
“HBO’s distribution of this documentary constitutes protected activity under the First Amendment and California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16,” states the motion to strike which was filed by HBO’s attorneys Theodore Boutrous Jr. and Daniel Petrocelli.
The Estate filed the lawsuit against HBO back in February on the grounds that the “Leaving Neverland” documentary had violated the terms of a non-disparagement clause that was part of an agreement the two sides had dating back to 1992, which granted HBO the right to air Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour live.
In Friday’s filing, HBO said that “Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate a reasonable probability of prevailing because enforcement of their contract claims would violate HBO’s First Amendment and due process rights, and violate California public policies,” and adds that “the 1992 agreement on which Plaintiffs base their claims is inapplicable to Leaving Neverland and is expired.”
A hearing date has been set for September 19, just 3 days before the Emmy Awards will air, in which “Leaving Neverland” is nominated for five awards including ‘Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special’, which is an absolute joke.