Verdict out in Michael Jackson's family case against AEG

Verdict out in Michael Jackson's family case against AEG
Published: 2013 October 03 06:08:56 (10312 Views)
In a resounding rebuke of the claim Michael Jackson died at the hands of greedy concert promoters, a Los Angeles jury decided the singer's mom and kids don't deserve a dime from AEG Live for his overdose in his private bedroom.

The jury of six men and six women returned their unanimous verdict Wednesday after four days of deliberation in the billion-dollar wrongful death lawsuit.

The panel decided AEG hired Dr. Conrad Murray, but the King of Pop kept his use of the surgery-strength anesthetic propofol a secret from AEG Live.

The jurors found the company had no reason to suspect a licensed doctor with no malpractice claims would violate his Hippocratic Oath with daredevil drug infusions.

The verdict capped five months of testimony in the closely watched case that exposed many secrets of the reclusive "Thriller" singer's personal life.

"The jury's decision completely vindicates AEG Live, confirming what we have known from the start — that although Michael Jackson's death was a terrible tragedy, it was not a tragedy of AEG Live's making," said Marvin Putnam, the concert promoter's lead attorney.

More than 50 witnesses, including Jackson's eldest son, Prince, 16, and his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, took the stand.

Rowe told jurors that Michael used propofol to sleep as far back as 1997 during his HIStory tour.

Michael's mother and brother, Randy, and mom revealed previously unconfirmed reports of drug interventions.

"There was simply no evidence that anyone at AEG did anything wrong," Putnam said.

He called the verdict a "great victory" for AEG Live, particularly its Chief Executive Officer Randy Phillips.

Phillips said the verdict was bittersweet.

"I counted Michael Jackson a creative partner and a friend," Phillips said. "We lost one of the world's greatest musical geniuses, but I am relieved and deeply grateful that the jury recognised that neither I, nor anyone else at AEG Live, played any part in Michael's tragic death."

"I am pleased that the jury recognised that this lawsuit was without merit, and the entire AEG family looks forward to putting this unfortunate chapter behind us," Beckerman said.

Katherine Jackson maintained a stoic demeanour as the verdict was announced about 6:30 p.m. Pacific time. She walked out of the courtroom, but once outside got into a wheelchair with the help of her nephew, Trent Jackson.

She did not make a statement or accept bouquets of roses from diehard fans of her dead son gathered outside the courthouse.

"This is a complete shock to Michael's fans and Katherine's supporters," fan Karlene Taylor, who attended almost every day of the trial, told the Daily News.

During the trial, jurors also got a detailed look at Michael's personal spending and heard he was awash in debts topping $400 million when he died.

Katherine Jackson's lead attorney, Brian Panish, built his case on the notion that AEG created a dangerous conflict of interest when it drafted a contract with Dr. Murray that pulled the plug on his $150,000-per-month salary if Michael didn't perform.

He said AEG executives saw Michael simply as a cash cow and failed to check on Dr. Murray's dire financial distress or help Michael as he deteriorated into a cold, emaciated basket case before their very eyes.

Panish asked the jury to find AEG liable for most of the $1.2 billion that his side believed Michael could have earned had he lived. He also asked for $85 million in personal damages for each of Michael's kids and his mom.

But AEG produced medical records that tied Michael to Dr. Murray as far back as 2006, and the company argued that Michael kept his thirst for propofol a fiercely guarded secret.

Putnam said in his closing argument that Dr. Murray shipped propofol to Los Angeles for Michael in April 2009, before AEG even knew he existed. He said had AEG known what Murray and Michael were doing behind closed doors, his client would have acted immediately.
"Simply stated, AEG never would have agreed to finance this tour if it knew Mr. Jackson played Russian roulette every night in his bedroom. It wasn't going to happen," Putnam said. "If AEG knew, it would have ruined everything."

He said Murray had no history of malpractice claims or overdosing patients before Michael and passed a criminal background check to get his medical license in California.

He called Panish's request for $1.5 billion both "ridiculous" and "absurd."

Katherine, 83, sat through most of the trial along with her nephew Trent and a revolving cast of relatives that included daughters Rebbie and Janet, and grandsons Taj and TJ.

Dr. Murray, convicted of involuntary manslaughter, followed the trial from his jail cell in downtown Los Angeles but signalled he would plead the fifth if called as a witness, his lawyer said.

He's expected to be released later this month due to good behaviour and jail overcrowding.

Michael's only daughter, Paris, 15, was a highly anticipated witness at the start of the trial last April but appeared only in snippets of videotaped deposition testimony after her suicide bid last June.

In one revealing deposition excerpt, Paris claimed her dad had a strange relationship with her mysterious longtime nanny Grace Rwaramba.

"He said she was sneaky," Paris testified during her deposition. "When he would stay in a hotel, or whatever, she would call the hotel and say that she was his wife. She was obsessed with him. ...They'd let her in, and she'd be, like, in his bed."

Rwaramba was on Katherine's original witness list but was not called despite sitting for deposition testimony after the trial started.

Celebrities on the Jackson family witness list — including Spike Lee, Diana Ross and Lisa Marie Presley — were never called to testify.

Source - NYDN


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