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Evan Chandler’s 1996 lawsuit against Michael Jackson

The lawsuit arising from Jordan Chandler’s molestation allegations was not the only lawsuit the Chandlers filed against Michael Jackson. On May 7, 1996 Jordan’s father, Evan Chandler filed a lawsuit claiming the entertainer violated the Confidentiality Agreement portion of their 1994 settlement. [Details about the settlement here.]

On June 14, 1995 Jackson gave an interview to Prime Time Live a television program hosted by Diane Sawyer where he was asked, amongst other questions, about the allegations. During the interview Jackson maintained his innocence and according to Evan Chandler’s lawsuit this was a violation of the settlement. Chandler not only sued Jackson but also Jackson’s then-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, who participated in the interview, the ABC television network, which aired the program and Diane Sawyer. Additionally, he sued several other companies besides ABC, like the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC, Jackson’s record label, Sony Music Corporation, Warner Tamerlane Publishing and all companies owned by Jackson.

Ray Chandler’s book, All That Glitters, speaks about this lawsuit:

Evan poured himself into the battle, working night and day to help his lawyers build their case. He became obsessed and put his entire life on hold, neglecting his health and his family in his quest to clear his name.

Evan rationalized his actions by believing that the lawsuits were a temporary detour, and that once they were over, life would be better than it had ever been — that he would have all the time in the world to spend with his children.

But life did not become better than it had ever been. It became much worse. Evan lost the lawsuits, his health and his family. The last two through no one’s fault but his own. But whatever faults Evan may have, whatever demons possess him, one thing he has never been and will never be, is an extortionist.” [1; page 248]

Evan Chandler

Evan Chandler

Michael Jackson did not explicitly call Evan Chandler an extortionist in the Prime Time Live interview (and he did not name his accuser). However, Jackson’s innocence would seem to implicitly suggest that Evan Chandler was an extortionist. In regard to Evan’s monetary demands of Jackson, please read this article and decide for yourself if Evan Chandler was an extortionist.

Besides the Prime Time Live interview, Jackson’s 1995 album, HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (in short HIStory) also hit a nerve with Evan. In his lawsuit he alleged that the album’s lyrics made derogatory, harmful, malicious” [2] statements against him and his son.

Jackson does not specifically name Evan or Jordan in his lyrics rather he mentions being falsely accused in the song This Time Around; he devotes a song, D.S., to criticizing District Attorney, Tom Sneddon; he criticizes greed in the song Money, and a segment of the media in the song Tabloid Junkie.

In his lawsuit Evan also indicated the line, “jew me, sue me” in the song They Don’t Care About Us was directed towards him since he was Jewish. However, listening to the song and the context in which the words were used, that is very unlikely. (Evan’s lawsuit quotes Jackson’s lyrics out of context and very imprecisely.)

It is undeniable that some of the songs on HIStory and their lyrics were influenced by the allegations and it is also natural that, like any artist, Jackson would process and vent his life experiences in his creative work. However, the claim that what Jackson expressed in his album violated the settlement and its Confidentiality Agreement did not find support in the Court system.

Money – one of the songs mentioned in Evan Chandler’s lawsuit:

In his lawsuit Evan Chandler claimed that Jackson, Lisa Marie Presley, ABC, Sony and others earned in excess of $60 million from album sales and the income of the Prime Time Live interview, and since their actions were allegedly in violation of the Confidentiality Agreement  they were actually indebted to him for that sum! He claimed Jackson “commercially exploited”[2] the allegations on his album and because of that Evan personally suffered damages.

Evan’s lawsuit claims:

“As a direct and proximate result of Defendant Jackson’s, and others’ material breach of the Agreement as herein alleged for commercial exploitation and financial enrichment, Plaintiff [Evan Chandler] demands all economic benefits gained by Defendant Jackson and other Defendants from the commercial exploitation of the facts of the “Underlying Action” in an amount in excess of $60,000,000.00.” [2]

The lawsuit alleged that because of Jackson’s and others’ conduct Evan suffered “severe and extreme emotional distress”:

 “The conduct of Defendant Jackson and others as herein described was done with the intent to cause, or with reckless disregard to cause, Plaintiff severe and extreme emotional distress. Such extreme and outrageous conduct exceeds all bounds of decency, and is of a nature which was and is specifically calculated to cause, and did cause Plaintiff to suffer extreme and severe emotional distress. Plaintiff is therefore entitled to recover damages according to proof.” [2]

and

“As a direct proximate result of the above-described words, Plaintiff has suffered the following special damages: Plaintiff has suffered loss of his reputation, shame, mortification, emotional distress, and injury to his feelings, while suffering and continuing to suffer general and special damages as set forth herein.” [2]

For the alleged trauma Evan demanded an additional $750 000 in damages, above the $60 million:

“As a further direct and proximate result of Defendants’ conduct as herein alleged, Plaintiff has suffered panic, trauma, humiliation, disgrace, worry, anxiety, mental anguish, physical and emotional distress, all to his damage in a sum in excess of $750,000.00.” [2]

Evan also demanded that the Defendants compensate him for his legal costs.

Besides the monetary demands the lawsuit demanded an Order allowing Evan to release an album about the alleged molestation of his son, entitled EVANstory:

“As an additional direct and proximate result of Defendant Jackson’s and others’ material breach of the agreement as herein alleged, and because of the need to repair the reputation of the Plaintiff, Plaintiff seeks the equitable remedy of an order to allow him to publish and cause to be distributed to the public for sale a certain musical composition entitled “EVANstory.” This album will include such songs as: “D.A. Reprised”: “You Have No Defense (For My Love)”; “Duck Butter Blues”; “Truth”; and other songs.” [2]

Remember that the Chandlers claimed that they refused to testify against Jackson in a criminal court in 1994 because they wanted to protect their privacy and because they wanted to move on with their lives and not subject Jordan to the media spotlight and scrutiny that would have been unavoidable in a high profile case. They also claimed they received several death threats from Michael Jackson fans and since Los Angeles District Attorney, Gil Garcetti refused to put the family in the Witness Protection Program, they were afraid for their lives. However, Evan Chandler was actually seeking media spotlight when he requested a Court Order to allow a release of an album about the alleged molestation of his son, in lieu of going to criminal court, testifying and subjecting himself and Jordan to cross-examination. Additionally, in 1998 Evan’s brother, Ray Chandler made his rounds in the media concerning the allegations in the civil lawsuit discussed in this article [3; page 8-9].

Consider the  lawsuit alleging that Jackson breached the Confidentiality Agreement in tandem with the fact that Evan’s brother, Ray Chandler was shopping a book about the allegations immediately after a settlement was signed. (For more about that book and Ray Chandler’s other appearances in the media see this article.)

Evan’s lawsuit was thrown out of court in 2000.

Evan Chandler’s 1996 lawsuit can be read in its entirety here: http://web.archive.org/web/20070916092707/http://www.courttv.com/archive/legaldocs/newsmakers/jackson.html

Sources:

[1] Raymond Chandler – All That Glitters: The Crime and the Cover-Up (Windsong Press Ltd, September, 2004)

[2] Evan Chandler’s lawsuit against Michael Jackson filed on May 7, 1996
http://web.archive.org/web/20070916092707/http://www.courttv.com/archive/legaldocs/newsmakers/jackson.html

[3] Notice of motion and motion of third party Raymond Chandler to quash subpoenas and/or in camera review; authorities; declaration of Raymond Chandler (October 25, 2004)
http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/102504nommot3rdpty.pdf

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