The five month long trial against promotion company AEG Live came to a close today with the jury’s decision to hold the company not liable in the wrongful death of Michael Jackson.
The lawsuit was filed by Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson’s mother, claiming that AEG Live was responsible for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted two years ago of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison. Katherine and Jackson’s three children Prince, Paris, and Blanket were seeking compensation of between $1 billion and $2 billion dollars. The damages would have covered the loss of Jackson as a son and father, as well as the revenue he would have made on his “This Is It” tour which was promoted and produced by AEG Live. Tragically, Jackson died a mere few days before the kickoff of the King of Pop’s comeback tour.
Michael Jackson died as the result an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol, which was prescribed by Dr. Murray to treat the singer’s insomnia. Michael Jackson himself was reportedly an abuser of prescription drugs, a struggle which he kept very secret from those around him, including his family. Therefore, when faced with the decision to hold AEG Live liable for the hiring and retaining of Dr. Murray, jurors were encouraged to consider Jackson’s part in his own death.
The jury agreed with AEG’s lawyers when they argued that the company had no reason to suspect Dr. Murray would be of any harm to Michael Jackson, as he was licensed to practice medicine in four states and had never been sued for malpractice. Furthermore, Dr. Murray had already been treating Jackson as a family physician for three years prior. Jury members were asked to decide if they thought Dr. Murray was incompetent to treat Jackson and voted 10-2 that he, in fact, was competent. Had they decided the other way, that vote would have made a tremendous difference in determining AEG’s liability in Jackson’s death.
AEG Live’s CEO Randy Phillips had this to say to CNN regarding the decision,
I counted Michael Jackson a creative partner and a friend… We lost one of the world’s greatest musical geniuses, but I am relieved and deeply grateful that the jury recognized that neither I, nor anyone else at AEG Live, played any part in Michael’s tragic death.
The story will most likely not end with the jury’s decision today, as Jackson’s lawyers feel there are grounds for an appeal, however that decision could take years.