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Michael Jackson wrongful death case nearly in jury's hands

Michael JacksonAEGCrime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemEntertainmentFBI

After listening to testimony since spring, jurors in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial are expected to be handed the case Thursday and asked to decide whether entertainment giant AEG Live is liable for the pop singer’s overdose death.

Attorneys for AEG, one of the nation’s largest entertainment firms, and Jackson’s family for the first time this week put a price tag on the singer’s 2009 death.

Brian Panish, representing Jackson’s mother and three children, said AEG should pay $85 million in personal damages to each child, and $35 million to Katherine Jackson.

Those figures, though, could pale compared to the potential economic damages that jurors could award if AEG is found liable in Jackson’s death.

An expert witness for the Jackson family calculated that the performer could have made as much as $1.5 billion if he had lived, from a world tour, endorsements, new music and a Las Vegas show that was under discussion.

“We’re not looking for sympathy,” Panish told jurors. “We’re looking for justice, full and complete.”

But AEG attorney Marvin Putnam scoffed at the calculation, saying its expert witness put the economic damages from Jackson’s death closer to $21 million.

The AEG witness testified that Jackson had a history of canceled shows and erratic behavior that made the likelihood of something like a world tour nearly unthinkable.

Putnam said AEG should not be held accountable for the actions and habits of a 50-year-old man like Jackson.

“Plaintiffs want you to hold a concert promoter liable for Michael Jackson’s overdose, in his bedroom, at night, behind locked doors,” he said.

The Jackson family contends that AEG, which was promoting what was to be the singer’s comeback tour in 2009, is liable for the pop star’s death because it hired  the physician who gave Jackson a fatal dose of a powerful anesthetic.

AEG contends that it was Jackson who brought Murray aboard and that the singer had a history of doctor shopping to get prescription drugs.

Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death and is serving a jail sentence.

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jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com

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