Jackson family to ‘explore all options’ after AEG Live verdict
Michael Jackson’s mother may have lost her main chance at holding AEG Live liable for her son’s death after a jury on Wednesday sided with the concert promoter in a widely watched lawsuit, but an attorney for the family said all options remain on the table.
After the verdict was read in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom -- clearing AEG Live of liability in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson a few weeks before his 50-concert London comeback was to begin -- Katherine Jackson looked ahead stoically.
She declined to address reporters as she was quickly whisked into another courtroom. She then left from the back of the courthouse.
Jackson family attorney Kevin Boyle said the family was considering its next move. “We were able to provoke some things that are important for the Jacksons and for the concert industry and the sports industry,” he said. “We are of course not happy with the verdict as it stands.”
He added that family members would “explore all options.”
Attorneys for AEG, however, held up the verdict as a clear vindication of what they’d argued all along: that the concert promoter was not responsible for Jackson’s death.
Marvin Putnam, AEG Live’s lead attorney, stood in front of a scrum of TV cameras, microphones and reporters, saying the concert promoter never considered settling the case, which could have cost it hundreds of millions -- if not billions -- of dollars in damages if a jury had voted the other way.
“They wouldn’t allow themselves to be shaken down,” he said.
The stakes for both the Jackson family and AEG were high. The Jackson family’s financial expert testified that the entertainer would have earned at least $1.2 billion from merchandise, new music, tours, endorsements and a Las Vegas show had he lived.
The Jacksons wanted AEG to pay his children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, $85 million each and his mother at least $35 million.
In the lawsuit, Jackson’s mother and three children alleged that AEG was to blame for the King of Pop’s death because it was negligent in the hiring and supervision of the doctor, Conrad Murray, who gave Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol. AEG argued that Jackson had a history of abusing drugs, including the anesthetic, and was responsible for his own death.
The outcome of the trial hinged on the first set of a sequence of 16 questions the jury was asked to answer during its deliberations.
Jurors took three or four votes to answer the first question, “Did AEG Live hire Dr. Conrad Murray?” before agreeing unanimously that it had.
“Minds were changed,” the jury’s foreman, Gregg Barden, told reporters Wednesday.
Some people felt that Murray was hired by both Jackson and AEG, he said.
The jury then had to determine whether Murray was unfit to perform his duties.
Jury members rejected the idea that Murray was unfit even though the Las Vegas physician was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death and sentenced to jail time.
Once they came to that conclusion, there was no need to answer the remaining 14 questions. Their work was done.
AEG released a statement expressing vindication. “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,” said Randy Phillips, an AEG executive who was named in the lawsuit.
Times staff writers Victoria Kim and Ruben Vives contributed to this report.
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