The Litigation – Part 3

The legal side

The legal side of the civil lawsuit revolved around the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) section 340.1 as the relevant statute of limitations. According to this section, in a child sexual abuse case one can bring a civil lawsuit against a non-perpetrator defendant (that is what Jackson’s companies would be in this case) until the plaintiff’s 26th birthday. Robson clearly missed that deadline because he was 30 years old when he filed his lawsuit in May 2013. However, the law allows an exception to this general rule which is in section 340.1 (b) (2).

“This subdivision does not apply if the person or entity knew or had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice, of any unlawful sexual conduct by an employee, volunteer, representative, or agent, and failed to take reasonable steps, and to implement reasonable safeguards, to avoid acts of unlawful sexual conduct in the future by that person, including, but not limited to, preventing or avoiding placement of that person in a function or environment in which contact with children is an inherent part of that function or environment. For purposes of this subdivision, providing or requiring counseling is not sufficient, in and of itself, to constitute a reasonable step or reasonable safeguard.” [1]

This law was created with church, school or boy scout abuse cases in mind where an organization is often aware that an employee has had allegations of child sexual abuse against him in the past, but fails to disclose that information to the parents of the children and fails to implement reasonable safeguards to avoid the employee interacting with children in their job.

Robson tried to make this fit Jackson’s companies. He made the claim that Jackson’s companies “knew or had reason to know” that Jackson had allegedly sexually abused children before or during Wade was employed by them and they failed to “implement reasonable safeguards” to protect him. (Wade Robson was employed MJJ Productions and/or MJJ Ventures after Joy asked Jackson to help them with their immigration in September 1991.)

It has to be noted that in this pre-trial period of a case, much of what a plaintiff alleges gets accepted at face value. The Judge’s task here is not to rule about the credibility of an accuser’s allegations, but about whether the plaintiff has made allegations sufficient to pass statutes of limitations and proceed to the trial phase. That does not mean those allegations are necessarily true, they are still just allegations, but the plaintiff at the very minimum needs to be able to make allegations that would make him pass statutes of limitations. Of course, if an allegation that a plaintiff makes is definitely proven to be untrue, for example during the summary judgement phase through indisputable evidence, then that is taken into consideration – like you could see in this case during the Probate Court proceedings where it was proven that Wade’s claim about not knowing about the Estate before March 2013 was untrue.

So in this case when Wade made the claim that Jackson’s companies “knew or had reason to know” that Jackson had sexually molested children before or during Wade was employed by them and that they failed to “implement reasonable safeguards” to protect Robson, the Court had to take those claims at face value.

To support the claim that Jackson’s companies “knew or had reason to know” that Jackson had sexually molested children before or during Wade was employed by them, Wade brought up a claim by Mark Quindoy, a disgruntled ex-employee with a questionable credibility (we discuss him in detail in this chapter) that Jackson’s personal assistant, Norma Staikos once allegedly told his wife never to leave children alone with Jackson in a room. Even looking past this witness’s credibility problems, this claim is very vague as it could have meant a lot of things in it its original context about which we are not given any information, but the Court has to interpret these claims in favor of the plaintiff at this stage. Robson also used other claims by Quindoy and other disgruntled ex-employees, such as Blanca Francia and Charli Michaels (whom even Wade’s own mother refuted), to demonstrate that there were employees who alleged to have witnessed inappropriate behavior by Jackson, therefore the companies “knew or had reason to know”.

As shown in later chapters (here and here) these people have serious credibility issues and they have all cashed-in on their allegations in 1993 by selling stories to the tabloid media when the Chandler allegations surfaced. Also neither one of these people told about their claims to their superiors at Jackson’s companies, so it is questionable how their alleged personal knowledge that they never shared with anyone at the companies, can be construed as a “reason to know” for the companies, but at this stage the Court needs to interpret these claims very liberally and favorably to the plaintiff and it does not decide about the credibility of these claims either. The Court simply has to take these claims at face value. The Court liberally construed the 1993 Chandler allegations as a “reason to know” as well (even though, of course, unproven allegations in themselves do not mean someone really is guilty). So regarding that element Robson could make enough allegations to pass – which does not mean those allegations are actually true, they are just enough to fulfill the requirement in the statutes.

The second requirement is the failure to “implement reasonable safeguards”. Section 340.1 (b) (2) even names what those reasonable safeguards can be: “preventing or avoiding placement of that person in a function or environment in which contact with children is an inherent part of that function or environment”. Naturally, to be able to take such action, a company has to have the power to do so. A company cannot be made responsible for something that is not under its control. In this case this means that, for them to be made responsible, Jackson’s companies should have had control over Michael Jackson – they had to have the ability to hire and fire him or to place him in certain functions or environments.

Considering the indisputable fact that at all times during Wade’s employment Jackson was the 100 percent owner and shareholder of both of his companies, the companies obviously did not have control over him – he had control over them. He was not an employee or any other type of subordinate, he was the 100 percent owner. He could not be fired from his own company and he could not be replaced or moved from or to certain positions if he did not want to. The principle that a company has to have control over something before it could be made responsible for it, is expressed in many precedent cases.

Robson tried to circumvent it by overstating and misrepresenting Norma Staikos’ role and power within the companies – that is why Staikos is emphasized so much through these proceedings and why Robson needed to drag her into the story and baselessly make her out to be a “madam” and a “procurer of child sexual abuse”.

Staikos’ official function was Executive Director at MJJ Productions and as such, of course, she had certain control within the company, but that does not mean she had control over Michael Jackson. As a matter of law, she did not and could not have control over the 100 percent owner and shareholder of the companies. Jackson could hire, fire or place her in other functions at will, not the other way around. Any control that she had within the companies was delegated to her by Jackson, and of course he could revoke it any time he wanted.

Precedent law also states that “the child must be exposed to the perpetrator as an inherent part of the environment created by the relationship between the perpetrator and the third party (ie. the company). [2; page 8]

This is logical, because a company cannot be held responsible for something that allegedly happened between two other parties outside of it. This explains why Robson made all those contrived claims that we discussed in this chapter, in an attempt to link the companies to his alleged abuse. He needed to demonstrate that if not for the companies, Jackson would have never had any access to him. Hence the lie that MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures “purposely orchestrated” the dance contest and the meet-and-greet after it in 1987 “as a sexual grooming mechanism to acquire minor sexual abuse victims for Michael Jackson”. Hence the lie that in 1990 it was Norma Staikos, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures who “purposely orchestrated” the Robsons’ meeting with Jackson again “as a further means for Michael Jackson to acquire another sexual abuse victim”. Hence the lie that Jackson’s companies helped their immigration for Jackson to have access to him for the explicit purpose of sexual abuse. All those claims despite of Wade knowing full well that it was his mother who pursued Jackson, not the other way around, and that the companies were incidental to this relationship – the Robsons wanted to meet Michael Jackson because of who he was as an entertainer, not because of his relationship with his companies.

Like the Jackson companies’ legal representatives pointed out:

“[T]he Corporations are, at best, incidental to the alleged abuse. Like Aaronoff [a precedent case], the alleged abuse predated any fleeting conduct or interactions with the Corporations, and the Corporations had nothing to do with the alleged abuse. Joy Robson could not have been more clear that the reason she trusted Michael Jackson was based on her own trust in him as a person. (…) She did not trust Michael because of his relationship with the Corporations (about which she knows hardly anything). (Fact 48.) No rational jury could conclude that Robson was “exposed to [Michael] as an inherent part of the environment created by the relationship between [Michael] and the [Corporations].” Robson’s exposure to Michael was a result of Michael’s fame, and the Robson family’s resulting pursuit of a friendship with him, not as a result of Michael’s relationship to the Corporations.” [2; page 24]

Based on the above, Robson could not fulfill the second requirement of CCP 340.1 (b)(2) and the Court dismissed his civil lawsuit in a ruling by Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff on December 19, 2017.

The previous chapter: The Civil Lawsuit

The next chapter: “Raising awareness” / “Helping other victims of Michael Jackson’s”?


[1] Code of Civil Procedure 340.1 (b) (2)

[2] Defendants MJJ Productions’ and MJJ Ventures’ Notice of Motion and Motion for Summary Judgement or, in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication of Issues; and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof (June 26, 2017)
2017.06.26. Estate Notice of Summary Judgement (redacted) WM

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