LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury reached a verdict of not negligent on Wednesday in a case claiming the promoter of Michael Jackson‘s comeback concert was negligent in hiring the doctor who killed him.
The panel of six men and six women began deliberating on Sept. 26, more than five months after the start of the trial that offered an unprecedented look into the superstar’s private life.
Jackson’s mother sued concert promoter AEG Live LLC over the hiring of Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol in 2009.
Katherine Jackson claimed AEG Live should have done a thorough background check on Murray.
The company denied hiring Murray and said he had been picked by the singer as the doctor for his upcoming shows.
The case provided the closest look yet at Jackson’s drug use and his battles against chronic pain and insomnia. It also took jurors behind the scenes in the rough and tumble world of negotiations with one of the world’s most famous entertainers looking to solidify his legendary status after scandal interrupted his career.
Witnesses said he saw the “This Is It” concerts as a chance for personal redemption after being acquitted of child molestation.
But as the opening date of the shows approached, associates testified that he had bouts of insecurity and agonized over his inability to sleep. They said he turned to the drug propofol and found Murray, who was willing to buy it in bulk and administer it to him on a nightly basis even though it is not meant to be used outside operating rooms.
Testimony at the civil trial showed that only Jackson and Murray knew he was taking the drug.
In his closing argument, AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam told jurors that the company would have pulled the plug on the shows if they knew he was using the anesthetic.
“AEG would have never agreed to finance this tour if they knew Mr. Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night,”
Brian Panish, a lawyer for the Jackson family, countered that AEG Live was negligent by not looking far enough to find out what it needed to know about Murray. He claimed in his closing argument that the lure of riches turned the company and Murray into mercenaries who sacrificed the pop star’s life in a quest to boost their own fortunes.
Panish asked jurors: “Do people do things they shouldn’t do for money? People do it every day.”
He said a $150,000-a-month contract to care for Jackson was a lifeline to help Murray climb out of his financial troubles, which included $500,000 in debt. AEG Live, meanwhile, had only one interest — launching a world tour for the King of Pop that would yield untold millions in profits, the lawyer said.
AEG Live’s lawyers framed the case as being about personal choice, saying Jackson made bad choices about the drug that killed him and the doctor who provided it. They said he was the architect of his own demise and no one else can be blamed.
Putnam said Jackson insisted on hiring the cardiologist, despite objections from AEG Live.