Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Stern said the case is more than three years old and that Jones’ attorneys could have brought their proposed new cause of action for financial elder abuse against MJJ Productions much sooner.
“This is a Johnny-come-lately to say the least,” Stern said.
The judge also said Jones’ lawyers cannot add four more parties into the case as defendants, including John Branca, a former Jackson attorney who currently serves as co-executor of the singer’s estate.
The complaint, filed in October 2013, alleges two causes of action for breach of contract against MJJ productions and one cause of action for an accounting of royalties owed against Sony Music Entertainment.
Jones’ lawyers maintained that they could not bring the elder abuse allegation and the new parties into the case sooner because they only recently learned important new facts, including that royalties from the “This is It” film allegedly were disguised as profits and diverted to three Jackson estate entities: the Michael Jackson Co., MJJ Ventures and Triumph International. Those three entities were also proposed new defendants.
But Stern said he agreed with defense attorneys that revising the case at this stage would be prejudicial to their clients and force the lawyers to file a flurry of new motions. The judge also said he did not want to jeopardize the chance Jones’ case can go to trial ahead of other lawsuits because of the plaintiff’s age. Jones is 83.
“This is It” is a 2009 American documentary that traces Jackson’s rehearsals and preparation for his concert series of the same name that was originally scheduled to start on July 13, 2009, but was canceled due to his death 18 days prior of acute propofol intoxication at age 50.
Jones’ attorney, J. Michael Henningan, said after the hearing that despite the ruling, he believes his client can still seek punitive damages, but MJJ Productions attorney Jonathan Steinsapir said he thinks Jones is now barred from asking for such compensation.
Jones alleges that master recordings he worked on were wrongfully edited and remixed so as to deprive him of bonus profits. He also maintains he was denied credit for his work on the singer’s works released after his death.
Jones made agreements with Jackson in 1978 and 1985 for work on the singer’s solo albums in which the producer claims he was given the first opportunity to re-edit or remix any of the master recordings. He also maintains that the coupling of master recordings with other recordings required his permission and that was to be given producer credit for each of the master recordings.
—City News Service
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