C.A. Rejects Claim Michael Jackson Breached Molest Settlement (July 11 2000)

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C.A. Rejects Claim Michael Jackson Breached Molest Settlement (July 11 2000)

Post by whisper » Wed Dec 15, 2004 5:40 pm

Copyright 2000 Metropolitan News Company
Metropolitan News Enterprise (Los Angeles, California)

July 11, 2000

C.A. Rejects Claim Michael Jackson Breached Molest Settlement

By a MetNews Staff Writer

Claims that entertainer Michael Jackson breached his settlement agreement with the dentist-screenwriter who sued him in 1993 on molestation allegations were properly resolved by the arbitrators who ruled in Jackson's favor, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled.

Arguments by Evan Chandler that the agreement's arbitration clause applies only to a narrow clause covering nondisclosure of the settlement terms were properly rejected by Superior Court judges in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties and by the arbitrators, Presiding Justice Paul A. Turner wrote for Div. Five.

"We indulge every intendment to give effect of the arbitration proceedings and resolve any doubt as the scope of the agreement to arbitrate in favor of requiring resolution of the entire dispute in the arbitral forum; particularly when all of plaintiffs' claims arose from a violation by Mr. Jackson of the confidentiality provision," Turner said.

A copy of Turner's unpublished June 26 opinion was obtained yesterday by the MetNews.

At issue were a 1995 appearance Jackson made on ABC's "Prime Time Live" with Diane Sawyer, lyrics to a Jackson song and several other instances in which Chandler alleged on behalf of himself and his son that the singer violated the confidential settlement by making reference to the suit.

Chandler's attorney, Peter A. Goldenring of Ventura, had argued that because there was no specific arbitration language applicable to a provision of the agreement dealing with commercial exploitation of the settlement or the alleged relationship, the alleged breach of that provision wasn't subject to compulsory arbitration.

The arbitrators retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bonnie Martin, retired state Supreme Court Justice Edward Panelli, and retired Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice John K. Trotter held that there was no breach because the complained-of activities involved the commercial exploitation of Jackson's "own public image, his music, and his new album, not the [plaintiffs]."

As a public figure, the arbitrators added, Jackson could not be deemed by the settlement agreement to be barred from proclaiming his innocence in a public forum such as a television interview.

Turner said it was up to the arbitrators, not the courts, to construe the agreement.

"In the present case, the arbitrators' finding of no wrongful conduct based on their interpretation of the agreement...did not conflict with any explicit and mandatory term of the agreement."

Chandler sued after Jackson allegedly molested his then-13-year-old son, Jordan. Prosecutors investigated but never brought criminal charges, and Jackson reportedly made a payment of several million dollars to Chandler to settle the lawsuit.

But Chandler sued again in 1996 for breach of the agreement. He cited the Prime Time Live segment, Jackson's HIStory album, an article in GQ magazine, and Jackson's alleged solicitation of radio personality Howard Stern "to resurrect [Jackson's] public image by exploiting the events relating to Plaintiff and the Underlying Action."

The album includes a song that generated controversy over lyrics that some reviewers and others alleged were anti-Semitic and were also cited in some media reports as critical of Chandler. The GQ magazine article discussed Chandler's background and the events that led to the lawsuit.

On the Prime Time Live program, Jackson and then-wife Lisa Marie Presley discussed the first lawsuit and Jackson's decision to settle it. Presley was sued along with Jackson, but Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge James Jennings ruled, on an agency theory, that she was entitled to enforce the arbitration agreement.

Jackson was represented in the Court of Appeal by Zia F. Modabber of Katten Muchin Zavis.

The case is Jordan C. v. Jackson, B134553.

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