Original TMZ story
A music producer claims he's owed at least $24 MILLION for his work on the Paul Anka/Michael Jackson collaboration "This Is it" -- and now, he's suing Anka and the MJ Estate for the money.
The producer -- named Michael Jonzun -- filed the lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court, claiming he helped remake Paul and MJ's 1983 song "I Never Heard" ... into what eventually became MJ's 2009 song "This Is It."
According to the lawsuit, Jonzun owns one-third of "This Is It" but he never got paid his share of the song's proceeds -- so he's suing.
Paul Anka tells TMZ, he has never even heard the name Michael Jonzun before today -- and any claims Jonzun owns a portion of "This Is It" are "BS."
Got the complaint file
This music producer is not only suing MJ Estate and Paul Anka but he's also suing Sony and Epic, Sony Pictures and AEG Live. He doesn't have a lawyer he's representing himself.
He says in 1990 he was approached for Sa-fire's version of the song by Polygram. He was sent Michael's demo and he says he created back beat, chords, guitar, strings etc as well as lyrics etc. He calls this as the song foundation and music bed. He says there have been offers for his version which he refused to sell.
He says the 2009 released version is substantially similar to what he did in 1990. He says he realizes his work.
- Court to give him 1/3 credit and estimated $10 Million in damages for proceeds not paid to him
- $4 Million in damages due to Lanham Act
- $10 Million for MJ Estate, Anka, Sony, AEG for unjust enrichment by not crediting him
Just a few days after he filed the lawsuit, Michael Jonzun asked for a voluntary dismissal and said he no longer wants to pursue the case.
Unless he refiles it at another court - such as probate court in CA - this case seems to be over - well at least for now!
This case was voluntarily dismissed by Jonzun at November 2012, it turns out he reopened the case at December 2012. Since then all of the parties - MJ Estate, Anka and Sony- have filed motion to dismiss. Jonzun has been asking extensions and time to get a lawyer so that's why the hearing for motion to dismiss took months to happen. Hearing was Monday January 27, it is now under consideration.
Boston producer sues Michael Jackson’s estate, Paul Anka
Claims ownership share of hit song
Photo by: File
IS THIS IT? Ownership of the late Michael Jackson’s hit single ‘This Is It’ is being contested.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 PrintEmailBe the first to comment
Laurel J. Sweet
A Boston-based producer who hit his stride in the ‘80s with the electro-funk band the Jonzun Crew is suing the estate of Michael Jackson and Paul “Having My Baby” Anka for $10 million, claiming the King of Pop and the iconic Canadian crooner cut him out of the credits on their Grammy Award-nominated single, “This Is It.”
Michael Jonzun alleges in court filings “This Is It” is nothing more than a remake of the love song “I Never Heard,” which Jackson and Anka co-wrote in 1983 and Jonzun said he was asked to produce and tinker with in 1990. His suit states Jonzun “still has the tapes of the versions he created in his possession.” He told a federal judge yesterday he has a contract to back up his one-third ownership in the hit.
But Los Angeles attorney Jeremiah Reynolds, one of the Jackson estate’s Wilshire Boulevard defenders, told U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper, “We strongly believe these claims do not have merit. I just want that on the record.”
“This Is It” was also the name of Jackson’s swan-song documentary released in 2009 when his sudden death at age 50 derailed plans for a world tour. The film grossed nearly $262 million worldwide.
Jonzun told Casper he believes Massachusetts has jurisdiction over his case because “Mr. Anka performs here regularly,” “the song is being sold in Massachusetts,” and “Jackson has books being sold here. The list goes on and on.”
The online database AllMusic credits Jonzun with discovering New Edition and with producing J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf’s 1984 solo album “Lights Out.”
Casper took under advisement arguments by Reynolds, Boston attorney Catherine Bednar on behalf of Anka, and Boston attorney Brian Devine, representing Jackson’s doomed comeback tour promoter AEG Live, that she should throw Jonzun’s suit out because he filed it in October 2012.
That’s 18 days after the three-year window of opportunity he had to stake a claim against the two superstars under the federal Copyright Act, they said. Jonzun then missed the 120-day deadline to serve them with summonses, they added.
Jonzun, 59, of North Falmouth, weighing in by speaker phone, cautioned Casper, “The defendants are using a smokescreen of sorts to distract you.” He said their protests that his civil action missed the deadline “are really just a wall for stopping me from moving forward because the case has merit.”
Jonzun also sued the metal band Limp Bizkit for copyright infringement in 2003 and reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement,
He assured Casper yesterday he is actively searching for a lawyer, adding, “It’s not easy getting someone to take on AEG Live, Paul Anka and the estate of Michael Jackson on a contingency fee basis.”
Here's the update
10/30/2012 Jonzun files the complaint against Sony Music, Mijac, MJ Estate, Anka, Sony Pictures, AEG Live + other production and publishing companies
11/06/2012 Jonzun files voluntary dismissal, judge dismiss the case.
12/04/2012 Case gets reopened. Jonzun files a document saying he never wanted the case to be dismissed and someone else filed that voluntary dismissal.
2/26/2013 Jonzun tries to serve parties by sending them certified letters he can serve some and some gets returned back to him. Note: Legally you need to serve a party in 120 days and that would be Feb 27, Jonzun stated the serving process on day 119.
3/22/2013 MJ Estate files a motion to dismiss based on the point that MJ Estate isn't a legal entity and it cannot be sued.
3/26/2013 Paul Anka files a motion to dismiss based on they weren't properly served (sent to the wrong address and wrong person) and Anka and his production companies are based in California and therefore Massachusetts courts do not have jurisdiction.
4/1/2013 Jonzun files a motion asking the court to enter a default judgment against AEG as AEG hasn't responded to the complaint when they are required.
4/5/2013 Jonzun asks for an 14 day extension to reply to MJ Estate's motion to dismiss and asks a 21 day extension to reply to Paul Anka motion to dismiss.
4/5/2013 Jonzun asks court for additional 120 days to serve the parties he couldn't serve before which are Sony Pictures, Sony Music, Mijac, MJ company, Paul Anka and his companies. Jonzun claims that an unknown third party presented himself as Jonzun and filed the voluntary dismissal request. Jonzun also states that he acted within the 120 day period of case reopen date of December 4.
4/11/2013 AEG files a motion to dismiss based on that they weren't timely and properly served (letter was addressed to AEG Inc's receptionist who's not an agent of AEG Live and is not authorized to accept service in their behalf), Massachusetts courts do not have jurisdiction and the complaint did not include a claim against them.
4/12/2013 Jonzun asks for a default judgment against AEG Live in the amount of $32 Million for failure to appear.
4/17/2013 AEG files their opposition which is mainly mentioning their points in the motion to dismiss.
4/18/2013 Anka files opposition for Jonzun's 120 days extension request to serve.
4/26/2013 Jonzun replies to MJ Estate's motion to dismiss. (Note: he's one week late to file)
5/1/2013 Jonzun replies to Anka's motion to dismiss.
5/3/2013 Estate responds to Jonzun again stating that Estate's aren't legal entities and cannot be sued.
5/8/2013 Jonzun replies to AEG.
5/15/2013 Sony Music and Epic Music gets served.
5/15/2013 Jonzun files another reply in support of his request for default judgment against AEG.
5/16/2013 Judge disqualifies himself as a law firm he worked previously filed an appearance in the case. A new judge gets assigned to the case.
5/17/2013 Anka files reply again expressing MA law doesn't have jurisdiction.
5/20/2013 AEG responds with again serving AEG Inc in Denver by mail isn't proper, MA doesn't have jurisdiction and so on.
6/6/2013 Jonzun asks for a stay on the case for 120 days so that he can find a lawyer to work on contingency basis. AEG doesn't oppose this. Anka only agrees to 30 days, Estate opposes.
6/14/2013 Sony and Epic files a document saying that they weren't properly served and asks Sony and Epic to be dismissed.
10/23/2013 Judge denies motion to stay proceedings noting that he had more than enough time to find a counsel (the last action on the case was July 3, by October 23 Jonzun had 3+ months to find a lawyer)
11/20/2013 Hearing on multiple motion to dismiss has been set for January 27,2014
1/27/2024 Hearing is held court takes the matter under advisement
Note: Jonzun is still representing himself.
Judge dismissed the case based on that MJ Estate cannot be sued (should have sued Executors in their executor capacity), Court doesn't have jurisdiction over Paul Anka and AEG and Jonzun was late in serving other parties such as Sony music etc.