L.A. Judge to Decide Michael Jackson Lawsuit Against Concert Promoter

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A Superior Court judge will decide a lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson against a concert promoter to prevent arbitration over a disputed 1999 concert contract.

Jackson and his company, MJ Company, sued Marcel Avram and his German-based company for breach of contract. The lawsuit also seeks a preliminary injunction to prevent Avram from proceeding with arbitration.

In 2002, Jackson testified in a $21 million lawsuit brought by Avram, who accused the entertainer of backing out of two concerts on New Year's Eve 1999.

The two ultimately settled, with Jackson agreeing to pay Avram $6.5 million, Jackson's lawyer, Thomas C. Mundell, told Superior Court Judge Soussan G. Bruguera. He said the settlement also called for Avram to stop seeking further arbitration.

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"Nobody pays $6.5 million and doesn't get a full release from future claims," Mundell said in his closing arguments during Tuesday's nonjury trial.

Disputes regarding the settlement were to be resolved in Superior Court as part of an agreement between both sides, but Avram moved forward with arbitration, according to the lawsuit.

Avram's attorney, Louis R. Miller, said his client should be entitled to $9.2 million that he spent promoting a benefit concert in South Korea. Miller also claimed Jackson committed fraud by not disclosing to Avram that Sony Music Entertainment owned the rights to footage of the concert.

Jackson left Avram "holding the bag" for the concerts, he said.

"It was an ugly situation," Miller said.