Quincy Jones’ $9.4 million legal victory against Michael Jackson overturned

Michael Eli Dokosi May 07, 2020
Michael Jackson, left, and Quincy Jones at the 1984 Grammy Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (Doug Pizac/ Associated Press)

Quincy Delight Jones Jr., the American record producer, won a 2017 verdict awarding him $9.4 million in royalties and fees from the Michael Jackson estate but a California appeals court on Tuesday overturned most of that jury verdict.

Being close pals with Jackson who perished on June 25, 2009, Jackson’s attorney Howard Weitzman expressed surprise that Jones would want to profit through foul means.

“Quincy Jones was the last person we thought would try to take advantage of Michael Jackson by filing a lawsuit three years after he died asking for tens of millions of dollars he wasn’t entitled to. We knew the verdict was wrong when we heard it, and the court of appeal has completely vindicated us,” a statement read.

And when Weitzman asked the elderly Jones during the trial if he realized he was essentially suing Jackson himself, he angrily replied: “I’m not suing Michael, I’m suing you all.” Jones in a statement noted at the time of the verdict that the lawsuit “was never about Michael, it was about protecting the integrity of the work we all did.”

“So many people have tried to take advantage of Michael and mischaracterize him since his death,” Jackson’s estate co-executor John Branca said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s gratifying that in this case the court in an overwhelmingly favorable and just decision, recognizes that Michael Jackson was both an enormous talent and an extremely fair business executive.”

The trial centered over the use of Jones-produced Jackson hits in the concert film “This Is It” and two Cirque du Soleil shows as well as definitions of terms in the two contracts Jackson and Jones signed in 1978 and 1985.

The state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that the jury misinterpreted a contract. It took away $6.9 million that jurors had said MJJ Productions owed Jones for his work on “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” and more of Jackson’s biggest hits.

The appeals court found that the jury wrongly granted Jones money from licensing fees which went beyond the 10% royalty rate Jones was owed for record sales, and incorrectly granted Jones money for remixes of Jackson’s master recordings, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The court kept intact $2.5 million of the award, which Jones said he was owed for the use of his masters in “This Is It” and other fees, the report added.

The court also rejected a counter-appeal from the 87-year-old Jones arguing that he should have been allowed by the trial court to make a claim of financial elder abuse.

“While we disagree with portions of the Court’s decision and are evaluating our options going forward, we are pleased that the Court affirmed the jury’s determination that MJJP failed to pay Quincy Jones more than $2.5M that it owed him,” Jones’ attorney J. Michael Hennigan said in a statement.

The contention also hovers around Jones being entitled to a share of net receipts from a “videoshow” of Jackson songs. The Jackson attorneys argued that the term was meant to apply to music videos and not feature films like “This Is It.”

Jones, who produced the classic Jackson albums “Off the Wall,” “Thriller” and “Bad,” had sought $30 million from the estate when he first filed the lawsuit in 2013.

The multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, arranger, and film and television producer has a career spanning over 60 years in the entertainment industry with a record 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award in 1992.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 7, 2020


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