Michael Jackson’s family has lost the negligence case against concert promoters AEG Live over the death of the pop star.
A jury concluded Dr. Conrad Murray, who was looking after Michael Jackson ahead of his concert tour was not unfit for his job – and so AEG had not been negligent in hiring him.
Michael Jackson died in 2009 at the age of 50 after taking an overdose of a surgical anaesthetic.
Dr. Conrad Murray was jailed for four years for involuntary manslaughter for administering the drug.
To reach its verdict, the jury of six men and six women had to go through five key yes-no questions seeking to establish whether AEG was responsible for Conrad Murray’s hiring in the first place and concerning his competence for the job.
The jury decided that AEG Live did hire Conrad Murray but found that he was not unfit or incompetent for the job.
Delivering the verdict, jury foreman Gregg Barden said: “That doesn’t mean we felt he was ethical.”
The ruling was welcomed by AEG Live, who argued that they hired Conrad Murray at the request of Michael Jackson and had no knowledge of the star’s drug dependency.
“I counted Michael Jackson a creative partner and a friend,” said AEG Live executive Randy Phillips, who had testified at the trial.
“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.”
Michael Jackson’s 83-year-old mother Katherine was in court for the verdict, and appeared emotional as it was read out, Reuters news agency reports.
Katherine Jackson’s lawyer, Kevin Boyle, said the family was “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.”
In closing arguments, the Jackson lawyers had suggested the damages they were seeking could exceed $1 billion – amounts AEG Live had described as “absurd”.
Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, at his rented home in Los Angeles where he was rehearsing for a series of worldwide This Is It concerts.
It was billed as his comeback tour, coming four years after he had been acquitted in a high-profile child molestation case that took a toll on his reputation and his finances.
The five-month civil case heard about his battles with chronic pain and insomnia and a reliance on powerful painkillers.
Michael Jackson died after Dr. Conrad Murray administered an overdose of the hospital anaesthetic propofol to help him sleep.
Katherine Jackson and Michael’s three children had argued that AEG Live were negligent in failing to properly investigate Conrad Murray before hiring him and ignoring signs that the singer was in poor health.
The concert promoters said only Michael Jackson and Conrad Murray knew he was taking the drug and they would have pulled the plug on the tour if they had known.
More than 50 witnesses testified during the trial, including Katherine Jackson and Michael’s eldest son, Prince.
Dr. Conrad Murray is due to be released later this month after serving two years in jail.