Michael Jackson's estate is one step closer to being able to take HBO to arbitration over its Leaving Neverland documentary.
Federal judge George Wu issued a tentative ruling on Thursday denying HBO's motion to dismiss the case. He is expected to make his ruling final within the next 10 days.
The film documents the allegations of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who say they were abused by Jackson for several years during their childhood.
The estate is furious that their side of the story was not included in the documentary. They argue that HBO violated a 1992 non-disparagement agreement with Jackson by airing the documentary.
HBO's lead attorney made this argument to the judge on Thursday:
“It was filed to chill speech. It was filed to tell the world, ‘Don’t talk about child sex abuse.’… A company like HBO may be able to fight back and move forward. Others might not be able to do that.”
On the other side, Jackson's lawyer said, “I’ve never seen a media organization fight so hard to keep a secret. We’re saying let’s get all the facts out there, not just two stories from two accusers with a financial interest.”
Clearly, this legal battle is far from over.