Entertainment

Michael Jackson wrongful death trial: Jury rules in favor of AEG Live

Wednesday, October 02, 2013
AEG attorney Marvin Putnam speaks exclusively to Eyewitness News on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Gregg Barden, the foreperson on the jury, discusses the verdict in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Gregg Barden, the foreperson on the jury, discusses the verdict in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013.

The jury in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial found that AEG Live was not liable in the pop star's death, which means the Jackson family will receive no damages from their lawsuit.

"We are disappointed by the verdict but respect the jury system," said Jackson attorney Brian Panish.

The verdict was reached on the fourth day of deliberations after more than five months of testimony.

"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 Live lead defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam said in a statement.

Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, sued AEG over the hiring of Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol in 2009. Jackson's attorneys claimed AEG should have done a thorough background check on Murray and was negligent in monitoring the doctor.

The jury found that while AEG Live hired Murray, the doctor was competent to do the job he was hired to do. Jurors agreed with AEG Live that the concert promoter expected Murray to be a basic doctor, providing basic medical care for the pop star -- not secretly providing Jackson with propofol as an insomnia treatment.

"Conrad Murray was hired to be a general practitioner. Conrad Murray had a license. He graduated from an accredited college, and we felt he was competent to do the job of being a general practitioner," said jury foreperson Gregg Barden. "Now that doesn't mean that we felt he was ethical."

It came down to the specific language in the questionnaire. Barden said if the word "ethical" was in the question, the outcome could have been different.

Attorneys for Katherine Jackson released the following statement on her behalf:

"AEG has denied for years, and continues to deny, that they hired Dr. Conrad Murray. The jury found unanimously that AEG hired Dr. Murray. AEG has repeated the mantra that this lawsuit was a shakedown. Such a statement is a slap in the face of the entire judicial system that allowed this case to get to a jury. 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. All options regarding the balance of the jury verdict are being considered."

In an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News after the verdict, Putnam said it wasn't about attacking the pop star.

"What I thought we shouldn't do, because it wasn't appropriate, was attack Michael Jackson. One shouldn't do that. Rather, what we had to look at was the reality of the situation, which was Michael Jackson was a longtime addict. And that is a tragedy, but it's a tragedy that people had to face," Putnam said.

Jurors and AEG Live expressed the same sentiment that there were no real winners in the case because it stemmed from the death of a great artist.

"I counted Michael Jackson a creative partner and a friend," said AEG Live executive Randy Phillips in a statement. "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."

Katherine Jackson showed no reaction when the verdict was read. The Jackson family was seeking $1.5 billion in damages.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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