Wade Robson and James Safechuck’s legal claims that the two Jackson-owned corporations named as defendants in the cases had a duty to protect them should not have been dismissed by a lower court, according to a three-judge panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal. The appeals court was able to reinstate them thanks to a new California statute that temporarily enlarged the scope of sexual assault prosecutions.
It’s the second time the lawsuits brought by Robson in 2013 and Safechuck the following year have been brought back after dismissal. The two men became more widely known for telling their stories in the 2019 HBO documentary “ Leaving Neverland.”
A judge who dismissed the suits in 2021 found that the corporations, MJJ Productions Inc. and MJJ Ventures Inc., could not be expected to function like the Boy Scouts or a church where a child in their care could expect their protection. Jackson, who died in 2009, was the sole owner and only shareholder in the companies.
The higher court judges disagreed, writing that “a corporation that facilitates the sexual abuse of children by one of its employees is not excused from an affirmative duty to protect those children merely because it is solely owned by the perpetrator of the abuse.”
It would be illogical to establish no duty since the corporate defendant only had one shareholder, they said. We therefore set aside the judgements rendered in favour of the businesses.
According to Jonathan Steinsapir, the Jackson estate is “disappointed.”
Steinsapir wrote in an email to The Associated Press, “Two distinguished trial judges repeatedly dismissed these cases on numerous occasions over the last decade because the law required it.” We continue to be adamant that Michael is innocent of these accusations, which run counter to all reliable evidence and third-party confirmation and were only brought up for the first time years after Michael’s passing by men who were just interested in making money.
Vince Finaldi, an attorney for Robson and Safechuck, said in an email that they were “pleased but not surprised” that the court overturned the previous judge’s “incorrect rulings in these cases, which were against California law and would have set a dangerous precedent that endangered children throughout state and country. We eagerly look forward to a trial on the merits.”
Steinsapir had argued for the defense in July that it does not make sense that employees would be legally required to stop the behavior of their boss.
The men’s lawsuits had already bounced back from a 2017 dismissal, when Young threw them out for being beyond the statute of limitations. Jackson’s personal estate the assets he left after his death was thrown out as a defendant in 2015.