Verdict reached in case against Michael Jackson promoter - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Jury rules in favor of concert promoter in Michael Jackson wrongful death lawsuit

Posted: Updated:
A jury reached a verdict on Wednesday in a case claiming the promoter of Michael Jackson's comeback concert was negligent in hiring the doctor who killed him.(AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File) A jury reached a verdict on Wednesday in a case claiming the promoter of Michael Jackson's comeback concert was negligent in hiring the doctor who killed him.(AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury cleared concert promoter AEG Live on Wednesday of negligence in the hiring of the doctor convicted of killing Michael Jackson.

The panel unanimously rejected a lawsuit brought by Jackson's mother that sought to financially punish AEG Live LLC, the promoters of her son's "This Is It" concerts planned for London.

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

Katherine Jackson told reporters she was OK 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 LLC, the nation's second-largest concert promoter.

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

AEG Live denied any wrongdoing and said it was Jackson who hired Murray.

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 agonized 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 attorney Marvin Putnam told jurors that the company would have pulled the plug on the shows if they knew he was using the anesthetic.

"AEG would have never agreed to finance this tour if they knew Mr. Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night,"

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.

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

He said a $150,000-a-month contract to care for Jackson was a lifeline to help Murray climb out of his financial troubles, which included $500,000 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 can be blamed.

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.

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."

Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for causing Jackson's death and is due to be released in October after serving a two year jail sentence.

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 wouldn't 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 in his shows.

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 anesthetic to help the singer sleep between shows in Munich.

A few years later, Jackson requested the anesthetic from a dental anesthesiologist 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.

Attorneys for the singer's mother argued that Jackson's signature was not necessary, but the company's attorneys 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.

  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Social media helps Homewood bakery find missing truck in under an hour

    Social media helps Homewood bakery find missing truck in under an hour

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:33 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:33:35 GMT
    A Homewood bakery got its missing truck back less than one hour after asking for help on social media. Two people saw the plea for help on social media and spotted it on their way home from a Barons game.More >>
    A Homewood bakery got its missing truck back less than one hour after asking for help on social media. Two people saw the plea for help on social media and spotted it on their way home from a Barons game.More >>
  • Attorney "getting conflicting stories about absentee ballots" in contested JeffCo race

    Attorney "getting conflicting stories about absentee ballots" in contested JeffCo race

    Sunday, July 27 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-07-27 23:08:43 GMT
    Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown is expected to address the challenge to the District Two election results Monday. The contest was filed by one of her opponent's supporters. ABC 33/40 spoke with the attorney representing that supporter.More >>
    Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown is expected to address the challenge to the District Two election results Monday. The contest was filed by one of her opponent's supporters. ABC 33/40 spoke with the attorney representing that supporter.More >>
  • Woman doused with gasoline and burned by ex-boyfriend

    Woman doused with gasoline and burned by ex-boyfriend

    Sunday, July 27 2014 5:04 PM EDT2014-07-27 21:04:38 GMT
    The Jefferson County Sheriff's department is looking for 48 year old Michael Kennedy. He's wanted on several charges after allegedly setting his ex-girlfriend on fire. Just after 2:30 this morning deputies respond to a report of a house fire in the 4400 block of Nellie Anderson Street. They arrived to find a 49 year old female victim with extensive burns to her head, arms, upper body and legs. She was transported to the hospital and admitted to a burn unit in serious condition. Investigators...More >>
    The Jefferson County Sheriff's department is looking for 48 year old Michael Kennedy. He's wanted on several charges after allegedly setting his ex-girlfriend on fire. Just after 2:30 this morning deputies respond to a report of a house fire in the 4400 block of Nellie Anderson Street. They arrived to find a 49 year old female victim with extensive burns to her head, arms, upper body and legs. She was transported to the hospital and admitted to a burn unit in serious condition. Investigators...More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Social media helps Homewood bakery find missing truck in under an hour

    Social media helps Homewood bakery find missing truck in under an hour

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:33 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:33:35 GMT
    A Homewood bakery got its missing truck back less than one hour after asking for help on social media. Two people saw the plea for help on social media and spotted it on their way home from a Barons game.More >>
    A Homewood bakery got its missing truck back less than one hour after asking for help on social media. Two people saw the plea for help on social media and spotted it on their way home from a Barons game.More >>
  • Nationwide manhunt for Ozark man accused of kidnapping, sexual assault

    Nationwide manhunt for Ozark man accused of kidnapping, sexual assault

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:00:39 GMT
    David PittsDavid Pitts
    A 30 year old woman and 8 year old child are receiving medical treatment after they were kidnapped and sexually assaulted. A nationwide manhunt is now underway for the suspect.More >>
    A 30 year old woman and 8 year old child are receiving medical treatment after they were kidnapped and sexually assaulted. A nationwide manhunt is now underway for the suspect.More >>
  • Attorney "getting conflicting stories about absentee ballots" in contested JeffCo race

    Attorney "getting conflicting stories about absentee ballots" in contested JeffCo race

    Sunday, July 27 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-07-27 23:08:43 GMT
    Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown is expected to address the challenge to the District Two election results Monday. The contest was filed by one of her opponent's supporters. ABC 33/40 spoke with the attorney representing that supporter.More >>
    Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown is expected to address the challenge to the District Two election results Monday. The contest was filed by one of her opponent's supporters. ABC 33/40 spoke with the attorney representing that supporter.More >>
  • Woman doused with gasoline and burned by ex-boyfriend

    Woman doused with gasoline and burned by ex-boyfriend

    Sunday, July 27 2014 5:04 PM EDT2014-07-27 21:04:38 GMT
    The Jefferson County Sheriff's department is looking for 48 year old Michael Kennedy. He's wanted on several charges after allegedly setting his ex-girlfriend on fire. Just after 2:30 this morning deputies respond to a report of a house fire in the 4400 block of Nellie Anderson Street. They arrived to find a 49 year old female victim with extensive burns to her head, arms, upper body and legs. She was transported to the hospital and admitted to a burn unit in serious condition. Investigators...More >>
    The Jefferson County Sheriff's department is looking for 48 year old Michael Kennedy. He's wanted on several charges after allegedly setting his ex-girlfriend on fire. Just after 2:30 this morning deputies respond to a report of a house fire in the 4400 block of Nellie Anderson Street. They arrived to find a 49 year old female victim with extensive burns to her head, arms, upper body and legs. She was transported to the hospital and admitted to a burn unit in serious condition. Investigators...More >>
  • A triple shooting leaves one person dead

    A triple shooting leaves one person dead

    Sunday, July 27 2014 11:51 AM EDT2014-07-27 15:51:55 GMT
    One person is dead and two others in juried in an early morning shooting in Ensley. Birmingham Police report incident occurred in the 1600 Block of Avenue I. Around 2:30 a.m. police were called to the location and found the victim lying face down in the street suffering from a gunshot wound to the back. Birmingham Fire and Rescue also responded to the scene and pronounced the victim deceased at the scene. The name of the victim has not yet been released pending notification of relatives. Ther...More >>
    One person is dead and two others in juried in an early morning shooting in Ensley. Birmingham Police report incident occurred in the 1600 Block of Avenue I. Around 2:30 a.m. police were called to the location and found the victim lying face down in the street suffering from a gunshot wound to the back. Birmingham Fire and Rescue also responded to the scene and pronounced the victim deceased at the scene. The name of the victim has not yet been released pending notification of relatives. Ther...More >>
  • Judge Rules Benz Plant Violated Labor Laws

    Judge Rules Benz Plant Violated Labor Laws

    Saturday, July 26 2014 11:29 PM EDT2014-07-27 03:29:07 GMT
    A judge has ruled Mercedes-Benz U.S. International violated labor laws while dealing with employees interested in forming a labor union.An administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ordered MBUSI to revise rules in its employee handbook governing the solicitation and distribution of materials at its auto manufacturing plant in Vance.The United Auto Workers accused Mercedes managers of stymieing pro-union employees' efforts to distribute information about the union.Mercede...More >>
    A judge has ruled Mercedes-Benz U.S. International violated labor laws while dealing with employees interested in forming a labor union.An administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ordered MBUSI to revise rules in its employee handbook governing the solicitation and distribution of materials at its auto manufacturing plant in Vance.The United Auto Workers accused Mercedes managers of stymieing pro-union employees' efforts to distribute information about the union.Mercede...More >>
  • Glen Allen man killed in accident involving logging truck

    Glen Allen man killed in accident involving logging truck

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:17 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:17:25 GMT
    Alabama State Troopers say a 63 year old man from Glen Allen was killed in a two vehicle crash in Fayette County. It happened Friday night on County Road 73.More >>
    Alabama State Troopers say a 63 year old man from Glen Allen was killed in a two vehicle crash in Fayette County. It happened Friday night on County Road 73.More >>
  • Shooting victim's wife and sons want answers concerning homicide investigation

    Shooting victim's wife and sons want answers concerning homicide investigation

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:11 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:11:45 GMT
    Family members grieve the loss of a 37-year-old man shot dead. Birmingham police are investigating. A family is asking questions as police hear conflicting stories.More >>
    Family members grieve the loss of a 37-year-old man shot dead. Birmingham police are investigating. A family is asking questions as police hear conflicting stories.
    More >>