Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Lawsuit Enters Final Stages
The wrongful death trial of Michael Jackson has been an extensive five month battle in an L.A. courtroom between Katherine Jackson, the mother of the late “King of Pop”, and AEG Live, the concert promoter of Jackson’’ ill fated “This is It” tour which had been scheduled to commence in the summer of 2009 days after Jackson died of a Propofol overdose.
In November of 2011, Jackson’s personal physician Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 50 year old pop singer’s death, based on evidence that Dr. Murray had caused Jackson’s fatal overdose from the surgical anesthetic Propofol. Propofol is a commonly used anesthetic, but only in a controlled environment, such as a hospital where the vital signs of the patient can be monitored. In Michael Jackson’s case, Murray was infusing the singer in his home with no staff to assist him, a medical malpractice disaster waiting to happen.
In the lawsuit, the 83 year old Katherine Jackson contends that AEG hired and supervised Dr. Murray (at the very lucrative rate of $150,000 per month) with the sole purpose of assuring that Jackson would be ready to perform when the tour began. Ms. Jackson also claims that AEG knew that Murray was administering Propofol in an unsafe manner, knowing that there was a substantial risk to Jackson’s health and that the risks could potentially be fatal.
Lastly, Ms. Jackson alleges that AEG created a conflict of interest by paying the debt addled doctor a substantial monthly fee with the understanding that he would be fired if Jackson was unable to perform, thus causing Murray to take unnecessary and unsafe medical decisions which adversely affected his judgment. AEG has undoubtedly brought up the well reported claims that prior to Jackson’s death, he had significant drug problems, using a wide variety of narcotics and other medications for insomnia and other medical issues. Further, Jackson was certainly capable of making his own decisions about his own health, and was in a position to fire Murray himself if he believed that Dr. Murray was not acting in his best interests.
AEG attempted to have the case dismissed this past week, arguing that the company’s executives did not know of the dangerous Propofol infusions administered to Jackson by Dr. Murray. However, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos denied the dismissal motion, stating that substantial evidence had been presented during the trial that AEG “knew or should have known” that Dr. Murray presented an “undue risk of harm” to Michael Jackson.
Nonetheless, Judge Palazuelos did dismiss the case against AEG CEO Randy Phillips and co-CEO Paul Gongaware, holding that they were not personally responsible for any actions or inaction the company took in the Jackson matter. Katherine Jackson is suing AEG for millions in her son’s wrongful death when ironically, due to proceeds from the “This Is It” movie, recordings, and profits from his purchase of the Beatles catalogue, the Jackson estate is now worth several times more than Jackson ever earned in his lifetime, as documented in a CBS “60 Minutes” story this past weekend which interviewed his long time agent Tony Branca.
Closing arguments in the case will begin this week, following rebuttal testimony presented by Jackson’s attorneys to contest AEG’s “lack of knowledge” defense. The verdict is truly hard to predict, due to the clear complicity of Conrad Murray, who certainly violated the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm” (but who was convicted in 2011 and is serving his sentence presently), contrasted with the evidence that AEG was undoubtedly exerting enormous pressure on Murray to ensure that Jackson would meet his contractual obligations, combined with the obvious question as to Jackson’s own culpability for his substance abuse and retention of doctors who would do what he requested irrespective of consequences.
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