Evan Chandler’s 1996 lawsuit against Michael Jackson

evan-chandler

Evan Chandler

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.

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]

Michael Jackson did not explicitly call Evan Chandler an extortionist in the Prime Time Live interview (and he did not name his accuser or any of his family members). 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 the chapter entitled The Chandlers’ Monetary Demands 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 does not seem to be the case. (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.

***

Before we continue with the 1996 lawsuit let’s take a moment for discussing Evan Chandler’s neglect of his family that even his loyal brother Ray Chandler referred to in his book. In 1998 Evan’s second wife Nathalie Chandler sued Evan for his abandonment of his two younger children. In the lawsuit Nathalie complained that Evan refused to work and did not provide for his minor children, nor was he available to them and was content with living off of the money of his son, Jordan. She also stated that Evan cut himself off from any other family members who disagreed with his behavior.

“[Evan Chandler’s two younger children] kept asking petitioner why respondent [Evan Chandler] and their brother Jordan do not love them anymore and refuse to see them or talk to them when the children call. They haven’t seen their father or their brother for an extremely long time for such young children. As a result of respondent’s deliberate and cruel abandonment of his two minor children, both children have been in therapy on a regular basis since September, 1997 and [Jordan’s younger brother] now openly states that he does not want to have anything to do with his father and he does not trust his father anymore. Although custody and visitation are not an issue in this matter, the children’s need for therapy has created a further need for financial assistance. If respondent does not want to see or talk to his children, he should at least cover the expenses of therapy resulting from his blatant abandonment of them.” [3]

and

“Evan is not a person who has a lot of friends. Since he decided to live with and off of his son Jordan, he has become either a nomad or a recluse. He does nothing to provide for his own living, or that of his minor children. He apparently is satisfied to allow his 18 year old son to support him and has purposfully cut himself off from any other family members who disagree with his behavior.” [3]

This puts the portrayal of Evan Chandler in the media or in Ray Chandler’s book as the concerned father, the only responsible adult in Jordan’s life, the only person who cared about his well-being, into a perspective. Out of all of his children Evan only seemed to care about the millionaire Jordan. After the settlement with Jackson he closed his dental practice, refused to work and provide for his other two children – or even to visit them – and decided to live off of Jordan’s money. Later, in 2005, Evan even filed a lawsuit against Jordan to try to get access to his trust fund. The 1994 settlement money went to Jordan’s trust fund (except for 1.5-1.5 million dollars that directly went to the parents) and that may explain why Evan chose to file another lawsuit against Jackson, this time on his own behalf, in 1996.

***

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.

More evidence that the Chandlers were not shy of publicity at all – in actuality, they played the media for their benefit and they were seeking the publicity – can be found in the court documents of this 1996 lawsuit. Among them there is a motion filed by the lawyers of Jackson’s ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley. In it Presley’s lawyers complain:

“Based on speculative and unfounded “conspiracy” allegations, plaintiff Evan Chandler has improperly dragged defendant Lisa Marie Presley into this lawsuit that is really between Chandler and Presley’s former husband, defendant Michael Jackson alone. Chandler’s recent actions prove that his reason for improperly suing Presley is, pure and simple, publicity, for himself and his counsel. Two weeks ago, Chandler took Presley’s deposition, and secretly called the media to tell them when and where Ms. Presley would be deposed. When they arrived at the deposition, Ms Presley and her counsel were unexpectedly besieged by the press. Chandler’s counsel also went on the air in a nationwide tabloid news program to publicize the Presley deposition. It would not be surprising if counsel had been paid for that. The deposition included questions about such private issues as Ms. Presley’s marriage to Jackson. Yet when asked to make the transcript confidential, Chandler’s counsel refused, showing that Chandler intends – unless stopped by this Court – to further improperly publicize Ms. Presley’s private life.

It is bad enough that Chandler has improperly sued Ms. Presley. He should not now be able to exploit Ms. Presley’s role in these legal proceeding for the publicity benefit of himself and his counsel. By this motion, Presley is asking this Court to limit the harm already caused to her by Chandler’s lawsuit by prohibiting the dissemination and disclosure of her deposition testimony, or the video tape of her testimony, to non-parties to this lawsuit (such as the media).” [4]

and

“On March 7 and 8, 1997, pursuant to this Court’s order, Chandler deposed Presley for two days. When Presley and her counsel arrived at the deposition site, they were confronted at the door by reporters and television cameras. Chandler’s counsel did not deny that he had called the media to cover the deposition. Chandler’s counsel made all the arrengements for the deposition, and never told anyone he had invited the media. Also, apparently before the deposition, Chandler’s counsel gave a private interview to a natiowide tabloid news program about the deposition. Right after the deposition, a major network broadcast the interview, along with clips of Ms. Presley and her counsel entering the deposition room, on the tabloid show. Chandler’s counsel obviously carefully orchestrated this media blitz to exploit Ms. Presley’s fame for the private benefit of himself and his client.

During the deposition Chandler’s counsel delved into Presley’s private life, including her marriage to and relationship with Jackson. Because the deposition covered such private topics, and in light of the TV cameras outside, Presley’s counsel asked counsel for Chandler to agree to keep the deposition transcript and video tape confidential. Chandler’s counsel refused as to both the transcript and the video tape. He even refused to agree to confidentiality during the time it would take Presley to file, and for this Court to hear, a motion for protective order.” [4]

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 [5; page 8-9].

Also 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. (More about that in the next chapter.)

Evan Chandler’s lawsuit was thrown out of court in 2000. His compaint 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] Nathalie Chandler’s lawsuit against Evan Chandler in 1998.

[4] Motion by Lisa Marie Presley in the 1996 lawsuit Evan Chandler vs. Michael Joseph Jackson and others. Case number: SM097360

[5] 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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