Ruling can be found here: https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/16e893f7-cb8d-488b-9b09-d35207848ae7
Before discussing judge’s ruling, I want to remind everyone that during demurrer/ summary judgment judge’s duty is not to determine credibility of Robson’s claims and/or innocence of MJ. This summary judgment is focused on Robson’s late probate claim and if any reason exists to allow the late probate claim. Furthermore during demurrer/summary judgment by law judge is required to accept everything Robson is saying as true and/or approach to everything presented in a way that is most favorable for Robson.
It is undisputed that Robson have filed a late claim against MJ Estate. First judge addresses time limits to bring a creditor claim against an Estate.
Probate rule 9103 (1) states a creditor can file a claim “within 60 days after the creditor has actual knowledge of the administration of the estate”. Robson claimed he did not know about the administration of the Estate until he went and talked to his lawyers. Judge rejected Robson’s argument and in his ruling states that Robson had “actual knowledge of administration of the Estate in February 2011(or at the latest sometime in the last quarter of 2011)”. From previous documents we know this is the time Robson met with Branca – Executor of MJ Estate – to discuss working on Cirque Immortal show.
Probate rule 9103 (2) states a creditor can file a claim “within 60 days after the creditor has actual knowledge of the existence of the facts reasonably giving rise to the existence of the claim”. This is about when Robson knew about the sexual abuse. Judge states based on Robson’s own declarations he knew about this no later than May 8, 2012. This is the date Robson told about the alleged sexual abuse to his therapist. Judge also states Robson is not claiming repressed memory.
So based on this, even under the most favorable scenario for Robson, he should have filed his claim within 60 days of May 8, 2012 or by July 7, 2012.
Judge mentions another possible timeline. Robson has stated on September 7, 2012 he emailed 30 people telling them about “very personal information”, “extremely sensitive legal matter” and “truth of his past”. Judge states this demonstrates that Robson had knowledge of existence of the claim (“sensitive legal matter”) sometime before September 7, 2012. So even this September 7, 2012 date is used as the date Robson became aware of the existence of a claim against MJ Estate, he should have filed his claim by November 2012.
However Robson did not file his claim until May 2013. Judge states Robson’s claim is barred as he was 8 to 10 months late to file it.
Despite Robson cannot satisfy probate code 9103 requirements, he also argues equitable estoppel. (Estoppel can “be established by acts of intimidation or violence that are intended to prevent the filing of a claim). He argues due to MJ’s alleged “bad acts”, Executors shouldn’t be allowed to argue any time limitation. Robson does not claim any action by Executors for his equitable estoppel argument. Judge discusses the law and states equitable estoppel applies to executors’ actions and not the decendent’s actions. Judge concludes as the Executors did nothing to prevent Robson from bringing his claim, equitable estoppel does not apply. Judge spends 6 pages discussing the law and the example cases and how none of them supports Robson’s argument of equitable estoppel based on decedent (MJ’s) actions.
Even though judge has rejected the equitable estoppel argument, he assumes Robson’s position is correct to demonstrate even in a most favorable approach to his claims Robson cannot succeed in his argument. Judge states both parties realize estoppel can only exist for a reasonable period of time after any violence, intimidation and threatening conduct ceases. Judge then goes over the claims by both parties. (These are labeled as “facts” as judge accepts them as true for the purpose of demurrer/summary judgment.) Robson alleges that the abuse happened between 1990 - 1997. According to Robson, MJ told him Robson could not tell anyone about the molestation because their “lives and careers will be over”. The only alleged threat by MJ happened when Robson was 11 years old. Robson alleges MJ told him they could go to jail for engaging in sexual conduct. Robson testified in 1993 stating “no sexual acts occurred between him and MJ”. Robson states as he got older, he would see MJ once a year and talk to him on the phone 2-3 times a year. In 2005, when he was 23 years old, Robson denied in a criminal trial that he had been sexually abused by MJ. Judge also states Estate’s claims (again labeled as fact). Robson knew MJ died on June 25, 2009. It looks like during a deposition Robson admitted as of June 2009 he knew it was a crime for adults to engage in sexual acts with minor and he knew minors are not criminally prosecuted when an adult engages in sexual acts with them.
Judge states when MJ died in June 2009, any intimidation and threats have ended (again Robson only claimed one instance of an intimidation/ threat when he was 11 years old). Judge states Robson was aware of the alleged abuse – as he is not claiming repressed memory. Plus as of June 2009, Robson was aware he could not be prosecuted (go to jail) for MJ’s molestation of him. Therefore Judge states Robson could have brought his sexual abuse claims in a timely manner – shortly after MJ’s death.
Based on the above, judge grants Estate’s summary judgment motion and dismisses Robson’s late probate claim.