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Michael Jackson’s estate has again convinced an L.A. judge that the late performer’s businesses can’t be sued by Wade Robson over alleged childhood sexual abuse — but the long-running fight might not be over as the choreographer’s lawyer has already said they’ll appeal the decision.
Robson sued in 2013 claiming Jackson sexually abused him for nearly a decade and his companies MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures facilitated the conduct. The estate, which controls the entities, argued it’s entitled to summary judgment because the companies owed Robson no legal duty and had no ability to control Jackson’s behavior.
In a tentative ruling, which was later adopted, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Mark A. Young agreed with the estate that it had no relationship with Robson that would create a legal duty for it to protect him from the alleged molestation.
“There is no evidence supporting Plaintiff’s contention that Defendants exercised control over Jackson,” writes Young. “The evidence further demonstrates that Defendants had no legal ability to control Jackson, because Jackson had complete and total ownership of the corporate defendants. Without control, there is no special relationship or duty that exists between Defendants and Plaintiff. In addition, there is no evidence of misfeasance by Defendants.”
Judge Mitchell Beckloff had previously dismissed Robson’s suit in December 2017, finding that it was filed outside the statute of limitations. It was revived by an appeals court in early 2020 after California enacted a law that extended the age by which people must file child sexual assault claims against third parties from 26 to 40.
Michael Jackson’s estate has been represented in the matter by the late Howard Weitzman and Jonathan Steinsapir, who on Monday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the decision.
“As of today, a summary judgment AGAINST Wade Robson has been granted three different times by two different judges of the Superior Court,” says Steinsapir. “Wade Robson has spent the last 8 years pursuing frivolous claims in different lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s estate and companies associated with it. Robson has taken nearly three dozen depositions and inspected and presented hundreds of thousands of documents trying to prove his claims, yet a Judge has once again ruled that Robson’s claims have no merit whatsoever, that no trial is necessary and that his latest case is dismissed.”
Robson’s attorney Vince Finaldi on Monday also sent THR a statement. “This decision of Judge Mark A. Young suffers from the same fatal flaws as the prior decision of prior Judge Mitchell Beckloff, which we were able to overturn on appeal,” says Finaldi. “For this reason, we will be appealing it to the Court of Appeal, and to the Supreme Court if necessary. If allowed to stand, the decision would set a dangerous precedent that would leave thousands of children working in the entertainment industry vulnerable to sexual abuse by persons in places of power. The children of our state deserve protection, and we will not stop fighting until we insure that every child is safe.”
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