His comeback tour is still postponed, but Michael Jackson may have managed to avoid a different disaster this week when lawyers appeared in federal court to fend off a potential default judgment against the pop star.
On Monday, attorneys from Dewey & LeBoeuf filed an appearance for Jackson at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 11 days after the court clerk’s office filed entry of default against the performer. Jackson didn’t respond after his former publicist, Raymone Bain, filed a $44 million lawsuit against him on May 5. Last week, Judge James Robertson held a hearing with Bain’s attorney, Frederick Samuels, name partner of Cahn & Samuels, to discuss a possible default judgment for his client.
Yesterday, Jackson’s legal team, which includes Dewey partners Henry Asbill and Donna Gordon, filed a motion to clear out the default entry, claiming that Jackson was never actually served with the suit.
Earlier this month, Bain filed affidavits showing that copies of her suit had been handed off to a security guard at Jackson’s Los Angeles Home, and to a former representative of his company, MJJ Productions. But the documents never made it to Jackson, his lawyers said.
Instead, Jackson allegedly heard about the suit on June 7 from friends who had read about it in the media (news reports of the suit broke the day it was filed). You can see The National Law Journals coverage here, here and here.
“Despite rumors and innuendos that may have surfaced before that date, Mr. Jackson did not conceive any lawsuit would be possible” because of an agreement Bain allegedly signed, his lawyers wrote in their motion.
Besides asking Robertson to get rid of the default entry, Jackson’s lawyers have also filed a motion to dismiss Bain’s suit. The publicist alleges that Jackson never paid her money she earned by arranging a series of lucrative business deals for the star. But Jackson's lawyers say Bain signed a release agreement that paid her $500,000 in return for waiving her right to any future earnings.
UPDATE June 26