A lawyer for Michael Jackson’s estate urged a judge Wednesday to reject claims by four people who insist they had interests in a company the singer created before his death, insisting the superstar was the entity’s sole owner.
Lawyers for Qadree El-Amin, Broderick Morris, Raymone Bain and Adean King said their clients collectively own about 15 percent of the Michael Jackson Co. under a 3 a.m. deal Jackson made with them in a Tokyo hotel room on June 1, 2006.
They say it was Jackson’s idea to form the company and that he reserved 75 ownership for himself; 10 percent each to his mother, Katherine, and Bain, his general manager; and 1.68 percent each to El-Amin, Morris and King.
In his final argument to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maria Stratton, lawyer Howard Weitzman questioned the validity of a document the quartet claims is Jackson’s signed consent to the alleged deal regarding the Michael Jackson Co.
Weitzman said Jackson routinely referred such documents to his lawyers before penning his name.
“I believe this is a totally and completely fabricated claim,” Weitzman said.
Stratton said she was taking the case under submission and did not indicate when she would rule.
King worked at the time for Bain, who testified in a sworn declaration that she met Jackson through tennis star Serena Williams. El-Amin was the manager of the R&B vocal group Boyz II Men, and Morris was the chief operating officer of Positive Productions Inc., a Japan-based company that promoted concerts and other events in that country.
The four maintain they tried to help Jackson recharge his career through public appearances, performing on tour and making more music.
Testimony began late in 2015 and continued through the first part of this year. The non-jury trial stems from a petition filed by the Jackson estate, which seeks to have the estate declared the sole owner of the Michael Jackson Co. LLC.
Attorney Jeffrey Fazio, on behalf of Morris, Bain and King, said Jackson was financially and professionally devastated by sexual misconduct allegations despite his 2006 acquittal and was looking to revitalize his career.
“Nobody wanted anything to do with him,” Fazio said. “He was a pariah at the time. It was no mean feat trying to get people to go into business with him.”
Yet Morris convinced business representatives to talk with Jackson and he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money doing so, Fazio said.
Fazio said Bain was instrumental in getting refinancing for Jackson’s Neverland Ranch near Santa Barbara as well as his family’s Encino compound.
Lawyer Maxwell Blecher, representing all El-Amin, Morris, Bain and King, said the four pledged to keep the deal under wraps.
“They all said they had an understanding with Jackson that they would not blab about it,” Blecher said. “They didn’t need to take out an ad in the Wall Street Journal.”
But attorney Patrick Millett, also on behalf of the Jackson estate, said the estate was entitled to know about the claims of the four within a year of Jackson’s June 25, 2009, drug overdose death. Their failure to do so violated the statute of limitations, she said.
Blecher previously said he does not know how much his clients may be entitled to if they win the case because the estate’s lawyers have not given them documents demonstrating the value of the estate. However, he said that despite the lack of information, it is worthwhile for the four to push forward.
“I believe there is substantial money there,” Blecher said.
— City News Service
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