AEG live, the promoter of Michael Jackson’s planned final tour, was found not liable late Wednesday in the pop star’s death, but there’s more to the jury’s verdict than just that.
The case will likely not end with the verdict because attorneys for the Jackson family have already said they have grounds for an appeal.
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The Jackson family’s lawsuit against AEG Live hinged on whether the company was negligent at the time Dr. Conrad Murray was hired.
Murray was convicted November 7, 2011, of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death from an overdose of propofol, a powerful anesthetic, and sentenced to four years behind bars with eligibility for parole after two. Murray is scheduled to be released from prison early on October 28.
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To convince a jury that AEG Live was negligent in hiring Murray, the Jackson family attorneys would have had to prove the company did not take proper or reasonable care in making their hiring decision. Therefore, the instructions given to the jury included a series of questions that had to be answered affirmatively in order to find the company negligent.
The first question asked if AEG Live hired Murray. The jury answered "Yes" to that question, but got hung up on the second question, which was “Was Dr. Conrad Murray unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired?”
The jury answered this question with a “No.” Therefore, they believed AEG Live took reasonable care in hiring Murray because he was competent to practice medicine.
AEG Live’s attorney Marvin Putnam reminded the jury during his closing argument that, before Jackson’s death, Murray was in good standing to practice medicine in multiple states, with no complaints, no pending lawsuits and no criminal cases on his record.
Since the jury answered the second question with a “No,” the deliberations were finished, and a verdict was reached.
The verdict also means that the Jacksons' legal battles may not be over. They could appeal their case against AEG Live to a higher court, and they could also sue Murray for damages for his role in Jackson’s death.
The doctor may have limited resources as he sits in prison, but the family could sue him for future earnings. If the Jacksons are successful in suing Murray, he may have to turn over any proceeds from a book deal or any income if he ever practices medicine again.