12:52pm PT by Ashley Cullins
'Leaving Neverland' Subjects' Suit Against Michael Jackson's Companies Revived by Appeals Court
Without addressing the underlying truth of the sexual abuse allegations Wade Robson and James Safechuck have made against Michael Jackson, a California appeals court has given the Leaving Neverland subjects the green light to sue two of the late singer's companies.
Robson and Safechuck, in 2013 and 2014, respectively, sued MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures arguing the companies are liable for the alleged abuse they experienced.
At the time, the state of California demanded that any childhood sexual assault claims brought against third parties had to be filed by the victim's 26th birthday, with few exceptions. L.A. County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff dismissed their claims on the grounds that they didn't meet those requirements.
California has since changed its law — and, effective Jan. 1, victims now have until their 40th birthday to take legal action. So, on Friday a California appeals court revived their claims. (Read the full decision below.)
Howard Weitzman, the attorney for Jackson's estate, on Friday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the decision: "Contrary to reports, the Court of Appeal did NOT revive the lawsuits by Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck against the Estate of Michael Jackson. Both of those lawsuits were dismissed in 2016 and the judgments in favor of the Estate and against Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck remain FINAL. Both men admitted in those cases that they committed perjury. The Court of Appeal’s ruling merely revived lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s companies, which absurdly claim that Michael’s employees are somehow responsible for sexual abuse that never happened. The ruling was the result of a change in the law signed by Governor Newsom that extends the time for genuine victims to file claims. The Court of Appeal specifically did not address the truth of these false allegations, and we are confident that both lawsuits will be dismissed and that Michael Jackson will be vindicated once again."
Vince Finaldi, the attorney for Robson and Safechuck, also gave THR a statement Friday and defended his clients. "We’re very pleased that the California Court of Appeals recognizes the strong protections California has for sexual abuse victims as well as the extended statute of limitations period for them to come forward," he says. "We look forward to continuing litigation of these cases as we prepare to present them to a jury at trial. It’s really interesting how [Weitzman] can comment on the facts of whether the abuse happened or not when he wasn't there. Anything he has to say he can tell to a jury and I look forward to it. We’re going to prove him wrong in court."