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Michael Jackson Accusers’ Lawsuits Revived by California Appeals Court

The decision comes in light of a recent change to California's statute of limitations.

As had been expected, a California appeals court on Friday (Jan. 3) restored two lawsuits accusing Michael Jackson of child sexual abuse, after the state’s statute of limitations was extended.

The lawsuits were filed by Wade Robson in 2013 and James Safechuck in 2014, but were dismissed on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired for both men. California law required such cases to be filed before the accuser’s 26th birthday.

However, in October 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new state law giving those who claim they were sexually abused as children until age 40 to file suit, effective Jan 1. In November, three judges from the 2nd District Court of Appeal said in a tentative ruling that in light of the new law, Safechuck and Robson’s suits ought to be reconsidered.

Now, the judges have made that ruling official.


Safechuck and Robson both sued corporations MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, arguing that the companies are liable for the alleged abuse. (A 2015 decision threw out the Jackson estate as a third defendant.) Both claim that Jackson, who died in 2009, molested them repeatedly when they were boys. Their cases became the subject of last year’s explosive, Emmy-winning HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland

While the new court ruling does not address the truth of their allegations, it does give them the green light to proceed with their lawsuits against the companies. 

Vince Finaldi, attorney for the plaintiffs, told Billboard over email that “we are pleased that the Court of Appeal recognized the strong protections California has for sexual abuse victims, as well as the extended time for them to file claims. We look forward to proving these claims before a jury. The time is coming for the Jackson estate and lawyers to ‘face the music’ regarding all of these lies and misrepresentations they have been making about Wade and James, and we welcome that day before the jury.”

Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Estate of Michael Jackson, reiterated to Billboard that the ruling does not revive lawsuits against the estate itself. However, he said, “the Court of Appeal’s ruling merely revived lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s companies, which absurdly claim that Michael’s employees are somehow responsible for sexual abuse that never happened. The ruling was the result of a change in the law signed by Governor Newsom that extends the time for genuine victims to file claims. The Court of Appeal specifically did not address the truth of these false allegations, and we are confident that both lawsuits will be dismissed and that Michael Jackson will be vindicated once again.”

Meanwhile, the Michael Jackson Estate is suing HBO over Leaving Neverland, and a federal juge has ruled that the case should be handled in private arbitration.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with statements from attorneys for the plaintiffs and the Estate of Michael Jackson.