A co-executor of Michael Jackson’s estate testified Monday that he believed all of the companies formed during the singer’s lifetime for his services named Jackson as the sole owner, contradicting the claims of a group of business people who claim to have ownership interests in one of them.
John Branca told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maria Stratton that he thought it was strange that the group claiming to own part of the Michael Jackson Co. did not come forward until three years after his death.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009, at age 50 of a drug overdose while in Los Angeles preparing for a series of comeback concerts in London.
“If I had a claim, I would have asserted it immediately after his death,” said Branca, who along with John McClain administers the Jackson estate.
Raymone Bain, Broderick Morris, Qadree El-Amin and Adean King say they collectively possess about 15 percent of the company under a 3 a.m. deal to which Jackson agreed in a Tokyo hotel room on June 1, 2006.
King was the only one of the four not present when the alleged accord was reached.
Stratton is hearing a non-jury trial resulting from a petition filed by the Jackson estate seeking to have the estate declared the sole owners of the entity, which still exists today. The hearing began in December and resumed Monday after a month-long hiatus.
King previously worked for Bain, an attorney who served for a time as Jackson’s manager and spokeswoman; El-Amin is a talent manager whose former clients include Boyz II Men; and Morris promoted entertainment events in Japan.
Questioned by one of the claimants’ attorneys, Jeffrey Fazio, Branca said he met Jackson in 1980 and was one of his attorneys off-and-on through about 2006. He said Bain once mentioned during a meeting before the claimants sued that a $44 million claim existed against the estate and inquired whether he would be interested in settling it. But he said Bain never mentioned that she personally was saying she had an interest.
Branca had several testy exchanges with Fazio. One of them occurred when the lawyer asked him whether he took claims against the Jackson estate seriously.
“I’ve taken seriously everything that relates to the estate of Michael Jackson. Nothing is taken cavalierly, let me assure you,” Branca said.
Branca said many of the questions Fazio was posing to him should be presented instead to attorney Howard Weitzman, who represents the Jackson estate and was sitting a few feet away from Fazio at the counsel table.
— City News Service