The long back and forth between the estate of Michael Jackson and HBO over the explosive Leaving Neverland documentary has come to somewhat of an end. A judge has sided with the estate and will allow them to take the network to arbitration.
Judge George Wu issued a tentative ruling on Thursday in which he denied HBO’s motion to dismiss the estate’s case. Wu is expected to make the ruling final by the end of September.
The four-hour documentary features allegations of two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who say they were sexually abused by Jackson over the course of several years when they were young children. The Jackson estate argues that by running the documentary, HBO violated a non-disparagement agreement from a 1992 concert film from Jackson’s “Dangerous” tour.
The estate blasted HBO for not including their rebuttal to the allegations in the film, and went to court seeking to compel a public arbitration of the contract dispute. HBO has said that the 26-year-old contract no longer applies.
HBO’s attorneys, led by Theodore Boutrous, had sought to throw out the case under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which discourages frivolous litigation intended to chill speech on issues of public interest.
The outlet updated its report later to acknowledge that the judge’s ruling is indeed final but an appeal from HBO is expected so the fight will continue in some form.