A longstanding legal battle has been settled as a California judge ruled that Michael Jackson’s former manager Tohme Tohme will be receiving the $3million he was promised in a 2019 settlement.
Image Credit: Hollywood Reporter
Tohme sued the estate back in 2012 claiming he was owed a 15% commission on compensation Jackson received in the last year of his life as well as a cut of the proceeds from Jackson’s concert film “This is It” which was released a few months before his death. He also claimed he was owed a finder’s fee for securing a loan that prevented the foreclosure of Neverland Ranch.
The feud seemed to be ending last year when parties reached a mid-trial settlement in May 2019 but they struggled to define the terms in a written agreement. As a result, Tohme turned around and sued again.
According to the court filing, Tohme was owed $3 million as part of the settlement. The estate never paid arguing that the agreement was never executed in writing and that the deal required a mutual release. The release enforced terms that both the estate and Tohme would "irrevocably, unconditionally, release, acquit and forever discharge" any and all claims against each other. The estate argued the release was necessary because the "intent of the settlement was to finally put to rest all of Tohme's claims, so that the Estate is not burdened by future litigation of old claims."
Tohme sued estate representatives John Branca and John McClain for breach of contract in November 2019. He claimed the draft of the agreement the estate sent him included terms he never agreed to so he refused to sign. However, he said an oral agreement had been made.
He moved for a summary judgment. The estate responded by claiming both parties had agreed the deal would not be finalized until the contract was signed and that Tohme was breaching the agreement by refusing to sign.
A settlement was finally reached when L.A. County Superior Court judge Mark A Young granted Tohme’s motion on Tuesday. He found that an oral agreement had been made and that the evidence Tohme had presented showed that the estate didn’t hold up its end of the deal.
"Here, the parties orally agreed to all of the terms and conditions of a settlement agreement," finds Young, noting specifically that their oral agreement included a mutual general release of claims. "Defendant fails to produce any evidence that parties intended for there to be a binding contract after a writing was produced, such that there exists a material issue of dispute fact."
Although Tohme was awarded the settlement, it’s a win win situation because the estate can now rest easy knowing they won’t have to deal with any more legal issues with the former manager. We’re glad this situation has been resolved in a happy ending for all.