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LA judge orders Michael Jackson to pay USD 175,000 law firm

A judge has ordered Michael Jackson to pay $175,000 (EUR123,014) in overdue attorneys' fees to a law firm that sued the pop singer.

Superior Court Judge James Chalfant's order means Jackson's legal bill to the firm, Ayscough & Marar, now totals more than $430,000 (EUR302,263). The firm sued Jackson in February 2006, claiming he did not pay for services it rendered on his behalf.

The firm said it had obtained court orders to delay discovery in civil cases and kept information from being released during the singer's 2005 child molestation trial, according to the lawsuit.

In July, Chalfant said Jackson would have to pay the law firm $256,000 (EUR179,952) for unpaid fees. Jackson's attorneys have appealed that judgment.

Monday's award compensates the law firm for having to hire a lawyer to sue Jackson. The firm had asked for nearly $450,000 (EUR316,322).

"We're very happy with today's outcome," Jackson's attorney Thomas Mundell said.

Asked whether his client would pay the firm, Mundell said "You'd have to ask him that."

Brent Ayscough, a partner at the law firm, said Jackson hasn't paid any of the money due.

"That's quite a lot of money for not paying his bills," Ayscough said.

The award will continue to increase annually at a rate of 10 percent until Jackson pays it off.

Jackson countersued the firm last year, claiming that one of the firm's lawyers threatened to expose confidential information about him to the media.

Chalfant dismissed Jackson's suit, saying it lacked merit.

The law firm, located in Torrance, also helped defend Jackson against a lawsuit brought by former business associate Marc Schaffel, claiming the singer owed him $1.4 million (EUR980,000) for past work.

A jury last year awarded Schaffel $900,000 (EUR632,644), but directed him to pay Jackson $200,000 (EUR140,588) to satisfy a countersuit alleging Schaffel misappropriated funds.

Jackson, 49, was acquitted of the molestation charges.

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