Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson's Mother, Loses Wrongful Death Suit Against AEG Live
Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson and his children have lost their wrongful death suit against AEG Live, the concert promotion company funding Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour.
The Jackson family alleged that AEG had hired Dr. Conrad Murray as Michael Jackson’s personal physician and, so, was responsible for Murray’s job performance. They were seeking $1.5 billion in damages – a much smaller amount compared to their original claim of $40.2 billion. The jury announced on Wednesday that AEG was not liable for Dr. Murray's actions, and, therefore, did not owe the Jackson estate any compensation.
Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for administering the final dose of propofol that killed the pop legend in 2009. The Jackson family maintained that it was AEG who had hired Dr. Murray and had failed to see how incompetent he was. After witnessing five months of testimony and evidence in the courtroom, the jury had to answer two questions: 1) Did AEG Live hire Dr. Murray, and 2) Was Dr. Murray fit for the job when hired?
A ‘no’ to the first question would get the case thrown out. AEG maintained that they were not in control of Dr. Murray and that Jackson himself had been in charge of his own health and physician. The jury found that AEG Live did, in fact, hire Dr. Murray, but they also determined that Dr. Murray had been fit for the job, making AEG Live not liable or negligent in the case of Michael Jackson’s death.
According to the reports, the jury was not unanimous, landing on a 10 to 2 verdict for Question 2. And they had to vote three or four times before having a unanimous answer to the first question. After the verdict was announced, jury members addressed reporters and made it clear that their verdict did not mean they endorsed Dr. Murray as an ethical physician.
“Conrad Murray had a license; he graduated from an accredited college… It doesn’t mean we thought he was ethical,” jury foreman Gregg Barden said.
Another member of the Jury, Kevin Smith, told reporters that it was Michael Jackson who was responsible for putting his trust in Murray and that AEG had advised the performer against hiring the doctor.
“Michael Jackson was very used to getting his own way… If anybody said no, he would find somebody else,” Smith explained.
AEG denied having any knowledge of Jackson’s drug abuse, saying that they never would have financed the tour if they had, and continuously called this suit a ‘shakedown.’
Katherine Jackson released a statement, saying that, though she is disappointed that the jury cleared AEG, she is pleased that the jury confirmed what she had always believed: it was AEG that hired Dr. Murray.
“AEG has denied for years, and continues to deny, that they hired Dr. Conrad Murray. The jury found unanimously that AEG hired Dr. Murray. AEG has repeated the mantra that this lawsuit was a shakedown. Such a statement is a slap to the face of the entire judicial system that allowed this case to get to a jury,” Katherine Jackson wrote in her statement.
With the civil suit over, AEG breathed a sigh of relief, and the Jackson family currently has no plans to further their legal battle over Michael Jackson’s death.
“We will evaluate everything and decide,” the Jackson family attorney, Brian Panish, told reporters when asked about a possible appeal.
In her statement, Katherine Jackson also acknowledged the need to regroup and explore their options.
“We have said from the beginning that this case was a search for the truth. We found the truth. AEG hired Dr. Conrad Murray, the man who is in jail for killing Michael Jackson. All options regarding the balance of the jury verdict are being considered.”
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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