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The most commonly asked questions about the 1993 settlement

November 21, 2009

OK, so the civil lawsuit in the Chandler 1993 case ended in a financial settlement  signed on January 25, 1994.  Let me make a short summary of the case for those who don’t like long posts:

  • It wasn’t Michael Jackson but his insurance company who paid to the Chandlers.
  • The claim was for ‘negligence’ only, and not for any ‘molestation’ issues which were withdrawn after reaching the financial agreement. Michael always maintained his complete innocence.
  • Since the Chandlers dropped all their charges except ‘negligence’, Michael dropped his claim against Evan Chandler of money extortion. Or it could be the Chandlers who dropped their claims after Michael had withdrawn his.
  • The settlement had absolutely no limitations for Jordan Chandler to testify in court in case the family wanted justice for their son and insisted on taking the case to a criminal trial. They could go on with it and still keep the money.
  • This opportunity was open to the Chandlers up to the end of 1999 but Tom Sneddon prolonged the period and changed law to allow Jordan to testify later having specifically Michael Jackson in mind. When criminal charges were brought against Michael in 2005 the prosecution approached Jordan Chandler but according to his uncle’s words Jordan left the country in reply.
  • Later Michael very much regretted that the Chandler case had been settled out of court.

Do you still have any questions about it?  In case you do here is an all-inclusive report (http://mjjr.net/content136.html) which answers the most common questions about the agreement in detail:

WAS THE SETTLEMENT AN ADMISSION OF GUILT BY MICHAEL JACKSON?

No. In fact, the official settlement agreement clearly states that Michael Jackson “specifically disclaims any liability to, and denies any wrongful acts against the Chandlers.” At another point it is written that the civil settlement is explicitly “for alleged compensatory damages for alleged personal injuries arising out of claims of negligence and NOT for claims of intentional or wrongful acts of sexual molestation.”

As part of the civil case, the Chandlers also announced within the settlement agreement that the first through sixth causes of actions (consisting of:  sexual battery, seduction, willful misconduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud) would be dismissed without prejudice which left only the last cause of civil action (negligence) in place, which the Chandlers likewise agreed to drop once the money was received.

Quotes: “Jackson specifically disclaims any liability to, and denies any wrongful acts against, the Minor [Jordan Chandler], [Evan Chandler] or [June Chandler] or any other persons. The Parties acknowledge that Jackson is a public figure and that his name, image and likeness have commercial value and are an important element of his earning capacity. The Parties acknowledge that Jackson claims that he has elected to settle the claims in the Action in view of the impact the Action has had and could have in the future on his earnings and potential income.

The Parties recognize that the Settlement Payment are in settlement of claims by [Jordan Chandler], [Evan Chandler] and [June Chandler] for alleged compensatory damages for alleged personal injuries arising out of claims of negligence and not for claims of intentional or wrongful acts of sexual molestation”.

DID THE SETTLEMENT PREVENT JORDAN CHANDLER FROM TESTIFYING IN COURT?

Absolutely not. One of the most commonly misconstrued beliefs of the settlement agreement is that it somehow prevented Jordan Chandler from testifying against Jackson in criminal court.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The 1993 settlement dealt exclusively with the civil case brought against Michael Jackson by the Chandlers, not the then on-going criminal investigation.  A civil case, in this perspective, is one that is filed with the single goal of obtaining monetary gain via a judgment against the defendant. Thus, when the Chandlers and their high-profile civil attorney Larry Feldman filed a civil lawsuit against Jackson, they did so with the sole intent of acquiring a certain degree of wealth;  not justice.

NOTHING within the settlement documents in any way prohibited the Chandlers from pressing criminal charges and pursuing the matter in criminal court, REGARDLESS of any financial settlement in the civil case. The Chandlers had every RIGHT to carry the case over to CRIMINAL COURT, even after obtaining the financial settlement.

In fact, Jordan Chandler was given more years to testify against Michael Jackson in a criminal court system than virtually any other alleged molestation victim, and was even granted a rare second opportunity to come forward during the 2005 criminal trial but refused. (Reports from his uncle, Ray Chandler, indicated that he had left the country in both 1998 at the age of 18 and again in 2005 to avoid having to testify).

By law, Jordan Chandler was permitted to testify at any time against Michael Jackson in court up through August of 2000. However, Tom Sneddon announced in 2001 that he had actually extended the statute of limitations of the 1993 case so that it “can be reopened at any time.”

According to Sneddon, the statute of limitations was frozen in time “because Jackson was living out of the country for much of that time.” On February 6, 2003, Tom Sneddon echoed a similar statement in a press release: “the 1993 case could be reactivated upon the discovery of new, credible evidence or victims willing to cooperate. Nothing has changed. The investigation remains ‘open, but inactive.’”

Between 1993 and 1994, the criminal allegations were investigated for over 12 months by Gil Garcetti of Los Angeles and Tom Sneddon of Santa Barbara.

TWO grand juries from both jurisdictions convened and spent months listening to the prosecution’s evidence and third party witnesses. At the end, each grand jury agreed that there was not enough evidence to indict.

Both district attorneys insisted that the reason they could not indict Michael Jackson on criminal charges is due to the “unavailability of the primary alleged victim.” It was made clear that Jordan Chandler could have come forward to testify at any point, but he never did.

DID THE INSURANCE COMPANY NEGOTIATE THE SETTLEMENT?

Ever since the initial leak of the settlement documents in 2004, speculation has spread that it was in fact an Insurer Carrier that ultimately negotiated and paid for the settlement, not Michael Jackson himself.

In a 2005 legal document filed in court by Michael Jackson’s defense, this theory grew feet.

On a Web chat conducted by Diane Dimond on June 16, 2004, among the questions discussed was the following one:
QUESTION from Incognito:  Did you say that an insurance company paid the money? What kind of insurance would that be?
DIANE DIMOND: Note that Jackson agreed to pay on the allegation of negligence. Check out your homeowner’s policy. If you negligently leave out a banana peel that someone trips and falls over, your insurance company will pay out for your negligence. They will not, however, pay out if you committed a crime. That’s probably why he agreed only to the negligence claim”.

Little more was said about the insurance settlement theory until the trial of 2005.

On March 22, 2005, a motion was filed in court on behalf of Michael Jackson and within the said court document, numerous statements were made that an insurance carrier had negotiated and settled the 1993 civil case. The relevant section from the document is transcribed below:

“The 1993 Civil Settlement was Made by Mr. Jackson’s Insurance Company and was not within Mr.Jackson’s control. The settlement agreement was for global claims of negligence and the lawsuit was defended by Mr. Jackson’s insurance carrier. The insurance carrier negotiated and paid the settlement, over the protests of Mr.Jackson and his personal legal counsel.

It is unfair for an insurance company’s settlement to be now held against Mr. Jackson or for the Settlement Agreement to be admitted as evidence of Mr. Jackson’s prior conduct or guilt. Mr. Jackson could NOT CONTROL NOR INTERFERE with his insurance carrier’s demand to settle the dispute”.

WHY WOULD AN INNOCENT MAN SETTLE A CASE?

Since the 1993 settlement, Michael Jackson has spoken very little about the conditions set forth within the agreement due in part to the confidentiality of said agreement. However, he and his attorneys have spoken numerous times, in general terms, about the motives behind the civil settlement.

While many people ask why an innocent many would settle a civil case as such, few ask why an alleged victim and his family would push for a civil settlement with a high profile attorney and then refuse to testify criminally against said abuser in a court of law. As Katherine Jackson asked, “If you think about it yourself, and Michael molested your son, would you ask for money? Would you?”

The general reasons that Michael and at least one of his attorneys has given as to why the civil case was settled in 1993, was that he just wanted to put the nightmare behind him. At the time, his attorneys advised him that the proceedings could drag on for seven years and that there was no guaranteed outcome in the court of law.

This reason, combined with the fact that Michael Jackson was on tour and bringing in huge amounts of money at the time (enough to make any personal or insured settlement amount look small in comparison), is why Michael Jackson has stated he agreed to settle the civil portion of the case.

On the Primetime Live interview with Diane Sawyer (which aired in the United States on June 14, 1995), Diane Sawyer asked Michael Jackson about the 1993 civil settlement. The conversation went as follows:

SAWYER: Why did you settle the case, then? Why did you settle the case? And, it looks to everyone as if you paid a huge amount of money, to get silence.

JACKSON: Well, most of that’s folklore.  I talked to my lawyers, and I said, “Can you guarantee me that justice will prevail?” And they said, “Michael, we cannot guarantee you that a judge, or a jury will do anything. And with that, I was like catatonic. I was outraged. Totally outraged!

So what I said, “I have got to do something to get out from under this nightmare.”  All these lies, and all of these people coming forward to get paid.  And these tabloid shows. Just lies. Lies, lies, lies!

So, what I did–we got together again with my advisers, and they advised me; it was hands-down a unanimous decision, “Resolve the [civil] case. This could be something that could go on for seven years!” He said, “Let’s get it behind us.” Get it–

SAWYER:  Can you say how much?

JACKSON: It’s not what the tabloids have printed.  It’s not all of this crazy, outlandish– no, it’s not at all. The terms of the agreement are very confidential…  The idea, it just isn’t fair what they put me through.  Because there wasn’t one piece of information that said I did that in any way. They turned my room upside down, went through all my books, all my video tapes, all my private things, and they found nothing. Nothing, nothing that could say, “Michael Jackson did this.” Nothing! To this day, nothing. Still, nothing.  Nothing, nothing, nothing”.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2012 5:09 pm

    “can someone tell me who the insurance company is i cant find it anywhere”

    Cengiz, if you are asking about the insurance company which paid $15,3 mln. to the Chandlers it was “Transamerica Insurance” who were suppliers of Michael Jackson’s personal liability insurance. Lisa Campbell says so in her book “King of Pop’s darkest hour”, published in 1994.

    Like

  2. cengiz permalink
    January 5, 2012 10:01 am

    can someone tell me who the insurance company is i cant find it anywhere

    Like

  3. Susan permalink
    May 12, 2010 2:45 pm

    Hi there!

    I would be very curious to know Diane Sawyer’s opinion of her very good friend, Oprah Winfrey, settling with her accuser over the defamation suit. Would Sawyer’s logic also apply to Winfrey? Did she pay to settle for silence on her case? Or are some people just a little more not guilty than others.

    On another Sawyer related note, I find it very interesting that her husband director Mike Nichols is one of the signatories on the petition of support for Roman Polanski… .. I’d love to hear conversations over dinner at their house.

    Yet Sawyer finds it impossible to keep the vitriol out of her voice when discussing anything Michael. And please don’t even get me started on her Lisa Marie interview – two conniving, ugly spirited people.

    Like

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