The King of Pop's Legal Circus
Thanks to a mixture of way too much money and not enough sense, Jackson was the target of scores of lawsuits before and after death.
1. MJ vs. Child Molestation Allegations: In 1993, a 13-year-old boy accused the singer of sexual molestation. As police investigated, the boy's father brought a lawsuit. The following year, the case was resolved in a settlement rumored to have been worth $20 million. Jackson would continue to face more litigation over sexual abuse, including a 2004 lawsuit that alleged acts from 20 years prior.
2. MJ vs. Family: After Jackson died in June 2009, a war started over who would control his vast estate. Attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain were appointed co-executors, but Michael's parents, Katherine and Joe Jackson, filed to open the probate estate, claiming Branca and McClain had "undue influence." Katherine dropped the case.
3. MJ vs. a Prince of Bahrain: Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the son of the King of Bahrain, was so eager to hear Michael Jackson's next album that he fronted the singer millions as an advance for a record, an autobiography and a stage play. When Jackson didn't deliver, in 2008 he was hit with a $7 million lawsuit. A settlement was reached with the help of the mysterious adviser Tohme Tohme, who flew to Bahrain to make peace.
4. MJ vs. The Crazies: Among the ridiculous lawsuits the Jackson estate has seen since the singer's passing is a $1 trillion claim from a man who said Jackson stole his herpes cure, a $1 billion lawsuit from a convicted criminal who claims she had an affair with the singer in the '70s that was chronicled in the Thriller and Bad albums and a $3 million lawsuit from a man who claimed it was illegal for taxpayers to fund the Michael Jackson memorial. And then there's the woman who demanded $50 million because Jackson allegedly stalked her, even after his death.
5. MJ vs. The Director and Co-Star of Thriller: More than 25 years after he shot the "Thriller" music video, Jackson was sued a few months before he died by director John Landis, who claimed that he hadn't been paid his share of profits for at least four years up to the lawsuit filing nor provided financial statements. Then, a month before he died, Jackson was sued over royalties by Ola Ray, who played his date. Both suits were settled only two months ago.
6. MJ vs. Concert Promoters: The prospect of having Jackson in concert was a valuable commodity that often triggered litigation. A $300 million lawsuit from AllGood Entertainment Group was filed mere days before he died, claiming he had backed out of a Jackson family reunion show. The case continued after Jackson's death until it was finally dismissed by a judge. Jackson's family also sued AEG for pressuring Jackson into the comeback tour that they said led to his death. That suit also was dismissed.
7. MJ vs. His Mother's Business Partner: One rather intriguing piece of ongoing litigation involves the executors' battle against Howard Mann, who operates the site JacksonSecretVault.com, which sells all sorts of items from Jackson's career, including photos, personal papers, costumes and unreleased music. (More fascinating is that there are ties between this "shadow estate" and Katherine Jackson, who owns a large share in MJ's official estate.)
8. MJ vs. Charity: Two days after Jackson died, a charity called Heal the World Foundation -- seemingly named after a Jackson song -- sprung up, soliciting donations to continue Jackson's charitable work. The estate sued over the alleged exploitation. But Katherine Jackson took the charity's side and in April 2011, on the eve of trial, her lawyer brokered a deal where the estate would take control and she would serve on the charity's board of directors.
9. MJ vs. Debt: One of the most significant lawsuits was from Prescient Acquisitions Group, which claimed it had brokered the deal for more than $270 million from Bank of America to pay off the singer's many bank loans. The firm said it was owed $48 million for the work and that the debt was secured by Jackson's stake in the Beatles song catalog. Jackson came to a settlement that staved off its potential loss in 2007.
10. MJ vs. Lawyers: With so many lawsuits, Jackson went through lawyers like sequined gloves. And lots of lawyers plus lots of debt is a recipe for even more suits, including ones from Lavely & Singer, which claimed in 2007 it was owed $113,000, and Ayscough & Marar, which claimed in 2009 it was owed $217,000 for work stemming from sexual harassment allegations. (Both were settled.)