The former manager of Michael Jackson has won a $3million (£2.39million) settlement from the late singer’s estate.
Tohme R. Tohme is to be given the money he claimed he was originally promised in a 2019 settlement but where the deal was never finalised in writing.
Tohme first sued the estate in 2012 for $20million (£15.9million) after alleging he was owed a 15 percent commission on compensation Jackson received during the last year of his life, plus a cut of the Jackson concert film This Is It. He also sued on the basis of not receiving a finder’s fee for securing a loan that prevented foreclosure of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
It looked as if Tohme’s separate $3 million settlement lawsuit was put to bed mid-trial in May 2019, however, a written acceptance was never agreed on and the money was never paid, leaving Tohme with the option to sue again.
In November 2019, Tohme then sued estate representatives John Branca and John McClain for breach of contract in a bid to get the court to force them to hand the money over. Tohme alleged the draft of the agreement the estate sent him included terms he hadn’t agreed to and it was never signed, but it didn’t matter because they’d made an oral agreement.
The settlement in question would “irrevocably, unconditionally, release, acquit and forever discharge” any and all claims against each other, meaning that should Tohme receive his $3 million, he wouldn’t open any further lawsuits. “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”, documents read, according to Billboard.
Tohme moved for summary judgment and the estate pushed back arguing that the parties had mutually understood the deal wouldn’t be final until it was signed off in writing. The estate argued that it was Tohme who breached their agreement by refusing to sign the agreed-upon release.
But on Tuesday (July 14), LA County Superior Court Judge Mark A. Young granted Tohme’s motion, deciding that the parties had formed an oral agreement and the evidence presented by Tohme suggested the estate, in refusing to pay, didn’t keep up its end of the deal.
“Here, the parties orally agreed to all of the terms and conditions of a settlement agreement,” Young said, 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 disputed fact.”