Ninth Circuit Orders Arbitration Of Claim That HBO Violated Confidentiality Agreement Regarding Michael Jackson

The Ninth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s decision compelling arbitration of claims brought by the estate of Michael Jackson that a confidentiality agreement entered into as part of a 1992 feature retained vitality years letter when HBO aired a documentary that disclosed information regarding Jackson’s personal life.

Noting that the merits of the estate’s argument regarding the alleged breach of the confidentiality agreement remained to be determined, the appellate court held that the issue was one for the arbitrator, as the 1992 agreement contained a broad arbitration provision:

“HBO contends the agreement is expired, but ‘where … the agreement contains a broad arbitration clause covering all disputes concerning the meaning of the terms and provisions of the agreement …. [d]isputes over expiration or termination must be submitted to arbitration.’… We have reaffirmed this principle and clearly stated ‘a dispute over whether a contract has expired or has been terminated or repudiated …. is for the arbitrator if the breadth of the arbitration clause is not in dispute.'”

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