|Michael Jackson family loses wrongful death suit against concert promoter
A US jury cleared a concert promoter of negligence in a case that attempted to link the death of Michael Jackson to the company that promoted his ill-fated comeback shows.
The panel rejected a lawsuit brought by Jackson's mother Catherine Jackson (pictured) claiming AEG Live was negligent in hiring Conrad Murray, the doctor who killed Jackson with an overdose of a hospital anesthetic the singer used as a sleep aid.
After a five-month trial, the jury also delivered a somewhat surprising message: jurors did not believe Murray was unfit or incompetent to perform his duties involving Jackson, AP reports.
“That doesn't mean we felt he was ethical,'' jury foreman Gregg Barden said after the verdict was read.
He said the panel knew many people would not agree with the verdict but explained that the jury followed the language of the verdict form and instructions.
The ruling on the competence of Murray ended any further consideration of possible damages and who was at fault for the death.
AEG Live lead defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam said he couldn't be more pleased with the verdict.
“They got it exactly right,'' he said.
Katherine Jackson said she was OK after the verdict.
A victory could have meant hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for her and the singer's three children and provided a rebuke of AEG Live, the US’s second-largest concert promoter.
Kevin Boyle, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, said he was disappointed with the verdict.
“We, of course, are not happy with the result as it stands now,'' Boyle said. “We will be exploring all options legally and factually and make a decision about anything at a later time.''
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson the overdose as he prepared for the comeback shows dubbed “This Is It.''
Jurors heard testimony from more than 50 witnesses, including Jackson's mother and his eldest son, Prince, as well as days of testimony from AEG executives who were repeatedly asked about emails in which they discussed Jackson's missed rehearsals and described Murray's pay as a done deal.
They also heard about Jackson's close relationship to many of his doctors, including Murray, who he first met in Las Vegas in 2007.
Katherine Jackson called the case a search for the truth about the death of her son and the trial featured potentially embarrassing revelations for both sides.
Jackson's mother and his three children are supported by his estate, which provides a comfortable lifestyle for them and erased hundreds of millions of dollars in debts by debuting new projects and releasing new music featuring the King of Pop.