LOS ANGELES – The hiring of Dr. Conrad Murray to treat Michael Jackson did not make AEG Live liable for the iconic pop king’s death, an appeals court ruled Friday.
Jackson’s mother, Katherine, had sued AEG in 2010, blaming the promoter for hiring Murray and contributing to the singer’s June 25, 2009, death, but an LA jury that sat through the five-month trial in 2013 ruled that Murray was a competent doctor.
Murray is serving four years for involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jackson’s overdose of the anesthetic Propofol at his home.
AEG attorney Marvin Putnam applauded the decision, which he said “makes clear [that] this was an absolutely baseless lawsuit that should never have been brought.”
“AEG had no role in Michael Jackson’s tragic death, and there is no way one can claim otherwise,” Putnam said in an email. “That is why the jury took only two days after a six-month trial to unanimously find in AEG’s favor. We are pleased the Court of Appeal agreed.”
The Jackson family had claimed that AEG – which agreed to pay Murray $150,000 a month for the 10-month “This Is It” concert series that was to serve as Jackson’s much-anticipated comeback – put too much pressure on the troubled singer.
The Jackson family had sought $85 million for each of the singer’s three children, $35 million for his mother, and another $1.5 billion for economic losses.
In a 39-page ruling Friday affirming the jury’s verdict, California’s Second Appellate District shot down each of the Jackson family’s arguments, including a claim that AEG had breached its contractual duties and negligently put Michael at risk.
“AEG did not owe Michael a duty to refrain from exerting pressure over Dr. Murray,” Justice Sandy Kriegler wrote for a three-judge panel. “AEG did not undertake to provide protective services to Michael, and AEG owed Michael no duty arising out of the contract with Dr. Murray.”
Murray was more Michael’s employee than AEG’s, the court found, noting that Murray was actually hired through Murray’s own company, CGA Holdings.
“AEG did not direct the manner or means of Michael’s medical care,” Kriegler wrote. “And although AEG was contracting to pay Dr. Murray for his medical services, Dr. Murray believed that Michael was his direct employer and he was working at Michael’s behest.”
AEG is represented in the case by Marvin Putnam from O’Melveny & Myers, and the Jacksons are represented by Brian Panish with Panish Shea & Boyle. Neither attorney immediately returned a request for comment on Friday.
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