AEG Not Liable in Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Trial
Concert promotion company AEG Live is not liable for Michael Jackson‘s death, a jury ruled Wednesday after three days of deliberation.
Jackson’s family had sued AEG seeking compensation for billions in lost earnings after the pop star died of a propofol anesthetic overdose administered by Dr. Conrad Murray in 2009. The family alleged that AEG negligently hired, retained or supervised Murray, who was convicted of manslaughter in 2011, and pressured him to keep Jackson coming to rehearsals for a comeback tour despite the singer’s rapidly diminishing health.
The jury acknowledged that AEG had in fact hired Murray, but decided that the company had no way of knowing that the doctor would prove deadly and no reason to suspect that Jackson went nearly two months experiencing exclusively drug-induced sleep.
“There are really no winners in this,” jury foreman Gregg Barden said after the verdict was announced. “Somebody had to die for us to be here . . . It was really a tragic situation.”
“We felt [Murray] was competent,” Barden said. “That doesn’t mean we felt he was ethical. If ethical was in the question, it might have been a different outcome.”
A Terrible Tragedy
During the trial, witnesses spoke of Jackson’s insomnia, his painkiller addictions and his relationship with his children. Experts testified about the dangers of propofol-induced sleep and AEG executives were called to answer for inflammatory emails they had written about their star.
After five months of testimony, the trial finally went to the jury on Thursday. After taking Friday off, they got back after it this week and delivered their verdict Tuesday evening.
“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,” AEG attorney Marvin Putnam said in a statement. “AEG Live did not have a crystal ball. Dr. Murray and Mr. Jackson fooled everyone. They want to blame AEG for something no one saw.”
“We have said from the beginning that this case was a search for the truth. We found the truth. AEG hired Dr. Conrad Murray, the man who is in jail for killing Michael Jackson,” the singer’s family responded in a statement. “All options regarding the balance of the jury verdict are being considered.”
Any appeal could drag on for years into the future. In the meantime, Murray is scheduled for early release from prison this month after serving about half of his four-year sentence.