The jury has spoken in the wrongful death trial launched by members of Michael Jackson’s family, finding on Wednesday that Jackson’s concert promoter AEG Live is not liable in the pop star’s 2009 death.
Jackson’s mother Katherine and his three children--Prince, Paris and Blanket--sought $1 billion to $2 billion from AEG Live, claiming the company was partly to blame for the loss of money they say Jackson would have earned had he not died of a drug overdose.
Jury foreman Gregg Barden told HLN's Nancy Grace that while the jury agreed that AEG Live hired Jackson’s longtime personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray--currently incarcerated for his role in Jackson’s death--they concluded the company had no reason to see Murray as unfit.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for overdosing Jackson with Propofol, a surgical anesthetic injected into Jackson’s body in efforts to treat insomnia. He was sentenced to four years in jail, but he is scheduled to be released later this month.
“I guess you have to understand they didn`t just throw us in the room and say, tell us was AEG liable or not,” Barden said hours after Wednesday's verdict was read.
After listening to five months of testimony in the civil trial, jurors were asked to answer a series of specific questions that would ultimately determine whether AEG Live was negligent in hiring, retaining or supervising Murray.
“We really didn`t say that Conrad Murray was fit,” Barden told Grace. “He was hired to be a general practitioner for Michael Jackson.”
“And to look at the definition of 'fit and competent'…all his licenses were intact," Baden added. "He had gone to a legitimate school. He had passed all of his doctor board exams. So he was fit and competent to be a general practitioner was the way we felt,” he said.
The jury also considered that Murray had no record of malpractice.
“You could have checked him out six ways to Sunday and there were no complaints there,” Barden said.
According to Barden, jurors recognized that, in hindsight, Murray failed to perform his duties.
“Nobody knew that he was unethical and would pump Michael Jackson full of Propofol,” he said.
“There was not one shred of evidence presented over five months to back up the fact that AEG could have known Conrad Murray was doing that.”
Barden said the jury was not asked to evaluate the quality of Murray’s care.
“Now, was he unethical? You bet, because he went beyond what he was supposed to be," Barden said. "So maybe had the word unethical been in there as opposed to unfit, I think the decision could've gone the other way.”