Business News Legal Management & Funding

Michael Jackson estate settles lawsuit with former manager

By | Published on Friday 24 May 2019

Michael Jackson

The Michael Jackson estate has settled a lawsuit with the star’s former manager, Tohme Tohme. The news comes five days into a trial to determine if he had been cut out of money owed to him for his work with Jackson before the star’s death in 2009.

Tohme began working with Jackson in 2008 and claims that his efforts turned around public perception of the star significantly, paving the way for him to announce his O2 Arena residency in London. Those were the shows, of course, that never happened because of Jackson’s death. In 2010, Tohme launched legal action claiming that the Jackson estate had failed to pay him money he was owed under his contract with the singer.

Over time that legal action became more complicated, although at its heart it was still a dispute over allegedly outstanding management fees. Tohme argued that he was due 15% of any money Jackson made in the last year of his life, as well as a cut of revenues from his posthumous ‘This Is It Film’. He also wanted a finders fee for setting up a loan that meant Jackson did not have to sell his Neverland ranch.

The Jackson estate countered that Tohme’s contract was terminated prior to the musician’s death. It also argued that the inclusion of the $35,000 monthly fee in his contract was unethical and meant that Tohme breached his fiduciary duties to Jackson.

As part of the trial, Tohme wanted the fees that estate administrators John Branca and John McClain earn to be disclosed, claiming that the work they have done since Jackson’s death is comparable to that he did before it. But before that could happen, the trial – which began earlier this month – was halted after a deal was reached.

In a joint statement, both sides told The Hollywood Reporter: “The estate of Michael Jackson and Jackson’s former manager, Tohme Tohme, confirm that they have amicably settled a lawsuit that had been underway in the Santa Monica Superior Court. The estate acknowledges his efforts on Michael’s behalf. The confidential settlement marks a resolution to an almost decade-long contractual dispute”.

Given, as they say, this legal battle has been rumbling on for the best part of a decade, you wonder why they couldn’t have come to an “amicable” agreement sooner.

Though the late in the day settlement does mean, of course, that we won’t get any insight into the structure of the post-2009 Jackson business or how much Branca and McClain have made from it. We do know that, in 2011, they agreed a pay rise from the 10% commission they had originally earned, although their current fee structure is not clear.