Appeals Court Revives Lawsuits Against Michael Jackson’s Companies

These lawsuits have a long history

Michael Jackson, 1996
Michael Jackson performs on stage during is "HIStory" world tour concert at Ericsson Stadium November 10, 1996.
Phil Walter/Getty Images

What duty does a corporation have to keep its employees from harming others? That legal question is at the heart of an appeals court ruling involving two men whose lives featured prominently in the documentary Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Robson and Safechuck both accused the late Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them when they were children, and filed suit against Jackson’s companies, arguing that the companies knew of Jackson’s abuse and failed to stop it.

As the Hollywood Reporter noted, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge had dismissed the lawsuits against Jackson’s companies, MJJ Productions, Inc. and MJJ Ventures, Inc. However, an appeals court reversed that decision, determining that Robson and Safechuck’s lawsuits can go forward.

The appeals court cited an earlier case, Brown v. USA Taekwondo, in determining that “a corporation that facilitates the sexual abuse of children by one of its employees is not excused from an affirmative duty to protect those children merely because it is solely owned by the perpetrator of the abuse.”

As Christopher Kuo wrote in a New York Times article on the ruling, the lawsuits from Safechuck and Robson against Jackson’s companies have had a long history, with Robson’s initially filed in 2013 and Safechuck’s filed in 2014. They’ve been dismissed, reopened and dismissed again; this latest ruling brings them back into the spotlight.

Barbra Streisand Apologizes for Michael Jackson Abuse Statement
“I am profoundly sorry,” she said in a statement.

As per the appeals court’s ruling, the lawsuits will now return to “the trial court for further proceedings.” And with these lawsuits, so too will the debate over Jackson’s life and legacy — already a complex one — grow even more complicated.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.