Michael Jackson's family lose AEG court case

Jackson's mother Katherine claimed that AEG Live hired Dr Conrad Murray to be the singer's physician without considering whether he was fit for the job

A jury has 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 claiming AEG Live was negligent in hiring the doctor who killed Jackson with an overdose of a hospital anaesthetic that the singer used as a sleep aid.

With its verdict, the panel also delivered a somewhat surprising message - jurors did not believe Dr Conrad Murray was unfit or incompetent to perform his duties involving Jackson.

The ruling on that question ended any further consideration on damages and who was at fault for the death.

“I couldn't be more pleased with the way the jury came out. They got it exactly right,” AEG Live lead defence lawyer Marvin S Putnam said after the verdict was read.

Katherine Jackson told reporters she was okay after the verdict.

A victory could have meant hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for Katherine Jackson and the singer's three children and provided a rebuke of AEG Live, the nation's second-largest concert promoter.

Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson the overdose as he prepared for a series of comeback shows.

The case provided the closest look yet at Jackson's drug use and his battles against chronic pain and insomnia. It also took jurors behind the scenes in the rough and tumble world of negotiations with one of the world's most famous entertainers looking to solidify his legendary status after scandal interrupted his career.

Witnesses said he saw the This Is It concerts as a chance for personal redemption after being acquitted of child molestation.

But as the opening date of the shows approached, associates testified that he had bouts of insecurity and agonised over his inability to sleep. They said he turned to the drug propofol and found Murray, who was willing to buy it in bulk and administer it to him on a nightly basis even though it is not meant to be used outside operating rooms.

Testimony at the civil trial showed that only Jackson and Murray knew he was taking the drug.

In his closing argument, AEG Live lawyer Mr Putnam told jurors that the company would have pulled the plug on the shows if they knew he was using the anaesthetic. “AEG would have never agreed to finance this tour if they knew Mr Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night,” he said.

Brian Panish, a lawyer for the Jackson family, countered that AEG Live was negligent by not looking far enough to find out what it needed to know about Murray. He claimed in his closing argument that the lure of riches turned the company and Murray into mercenaries who sacrificed the pop star's life in a quest to boost their own fortunes.

Mr Panish asked jurors: “Do people do things they shouldn't do for money? People do it every day.”

He said Murray's $150,000 (£92,400)-a-month contract to care for Jackson was a lifeline to help him climb out of his financial troubles, which included $500,000 (£310,000) in debt.

AEG Live, meanwhile, had only one interest - launching a world tour for the King of Pop that would yield untold millions in profits, the lawyer said.

AEG Live's lawyers framed the case as being about personal choice, saying Jackson made bad choices about the drug that killed him and the doctor who provided it. They said he was the architect of his own demise and no-one else could be blamed.

Mr Putnam said Jackson insisted on hiring the cardiologist, despite objections from AEG Live. “It was his money and he certainly wasn't going to take no for an answer,” the lawyer said.

Mr Putnam portrayed AEG Live and its executives as victims of deception by Jackson and Murray. He showed brief excerpts from the This Is It documentary to show that Jackson appeared in top form just 12 hours before he died.

“AEG Live did not have a crystal ball,” he said. “Dr Murray and Mr Jackson fooled everyone. They want to blame AEG for something no-one saw.”

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. AEG's executives had their emails picked apart, revealing concerns that Jackson would not be able to perform the shows as planned, that a lawyer at their parent company referred to Michael Jackson as “the freak”, and that Jackson was derided even though the company had invested more than $30 million (£18.4 million) in his shows.

Jackson's greatest hits were in heavy rotation throughout the trial, with jurors watching footage of him moonwalking across stages and playing to packed arenas around the globe, with some fans so overcome with emotion that some had to be carried out on stretchers. A world few saw was also on display, with private videos of Christmas mornings Jackson spent with his children and stories about his devotion to them being recounted throughout the trial.

AEG Live, meanwhile, laid out Jackson's medical history, presenting testimony about his use of drugs, including the powerful painkiller Demerol, for pain stemming from an accident that occurred decades ago while he was filming a Pepsi commercial. Jackson had no trace of that drug in his system when he died.

The lawyers called witnesses who recounted Jackson's use of propofol dating back to the 1990s. In 1997, two German doctors administered the anaesthetic to help the singer sleep between shows in Munich.

A few years later, Jackson requested the anaesthetic from a dental anaesthesiologist who refused, as did another doctor who testified that Jackson kept a box of propofol in his bedroom at Neverland Ranch.

On the issue of possible damages, expert witnesses for the company said any estimate of Jackson's future earnings were speculative, and they showed the panel that the singer was deeply in debt and consistently spent more than he earned.

In the verdict form, jurors were first asked to decide the central question of the case - whether AEG Live hired Murray to treat Jackson. During the trial, they heard evidence that AEG had drafted a contract that was signed by Murray. But there were no indications that it was signed by AEG Live or Jackson.

Lawyers for the singer's mother argued that Jackson's signature was not necessary, but the company's lawyers said the contract required his consent to be binding.

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.

AP

Suggested Topics
Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice