Los Angeles (AFP) – A California jury dismissed a lawsuit brought by Michael Jackson’s family seeking massive damages from tour promoter AEG Live over the pop legend’s 2009 death.
At the climax of a five-month trial on Wednesday, the six man, six woman panel agreed that AEG Live hired doctor Conrad Murray, but found that he was not unfit or incompetent for the job he was hired to do, a key requirement for the Jackson lawsuit to have succeeded.
Jackson’s 83-year-old mother Katherine alleged that AEG Live negligently hired and supervised Murray, seeking damages of more than a billion dollars for her and the icon’s three children.
AEG Live lead lawyer Marvin Putnam welcomed the verdict, which came after the jury deliberated for three days.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Kevin Boyle, one of the Jackson family’s lawyers, voiced disappointment at the verdict, and did not rule out an appeal.
“We are of course not happy with the result as it stands now. We will be exploring all options legally and factually and make a decision about anything at a later time,” he told reporters outside court.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, given by Murray at the star’s rented mansion in Los Angeles, where he was rehearsing for the shows at London’s O2 Arena.
Murray, a Grenada-born cardiologist, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a criminal trial in 2011 for giving the drug to the star — who suffered from chronic insomnia — to help him sleep. He was jailed for four years, but is expected to be released in coming weeks.
In the civil trial, the singer’s mother — who gave testimony, as did his eldest son Prince, 16 — alleged that AEG Live missed a series of red flags about the star’s failing health in the run-up to his death.
The “This is It” tour was Jackson’s bid at a comeback four years after his infamous child molestation trial. He was acquitted, but his image was destroyed, and he desperately needed to make money.