LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles jury cleared concert promoter AEG Live of liability on Wednesday in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Michael Jackson in a trial that offered a glimpse into the private life and final days of the so-called King of Pop.
The unanimous verdict, which concluded that the doctor the company hired for the singer was not unfit for his job, capped a sensational five-month trial that threatened to shake up the way entertainment companies treat their most risky talent.
“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,” defense attorney Marvin Putnam said in a statement following the verdict.
Jackson’s 83-year-old mother, Katherine, and his three children sued AEG Live over the singer’s 2009 death at age 50 in Los Angeles from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol. She was in court for the verdict, which came on the fourth day of deliberations.
The family claimed that privately held AEG Live negligently hired Conrad Murray as Jackson’s personal physician and ignored signs that the “Thriller” singer was in poor health prior to his death.
Murray, who was caring for Jackson as the singer rehearsed for his series of 50 comeback “This Is It” concerts, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for administering the propofol that killed the star.
Jackson family lawyers had suggested in court documents that damages could exceed $1 billion if AEG Live was found liable. AEG Live had argued that it was Jackson who chose Murray as his physician.
Additional reporting by Steve Gorman, Piya Sinha-Roy and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bob Burgdorfer