Sunday, 8 May 2011

Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Suit Vs. AEG Can Proceed, Judge Rules

Katherine Jackson and family are pursuing a claim against concert promoter.
By Gil Kaufman

Michael Jackson

When he was alive, Michael Jackson was forever embroiled in a series of complex and expensive-sounding lawsuits. But even in death, the late King of Pop is the subject of major legal action. None could potentially be bigger than the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the pop icon's mother, Katherine Jackson, against concert promotion giant AEG Live.

Reuters reported that a Los Angeles judge ruled on Wednesday that the civil lawsuit can go forward. It will proceed in parallel with the criminal case against Jackson's physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jackson's June 2009 death from an overdose of the powerful surgical anesthetic propofol. Murray is the only person charged in Jackson's death and he is currently awaiting trial in that matter.

Katherine Jackson's lawsuit — filed in September on behalf of her and Jackson's three young children — accuses AEG of being responsible for the medical decisions made by Murray, whose salary was paid by the touring company behind Jackson's attempted "This Is It" comeback shows in London. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos denied a motion on Wednesday by AEG to dismiss Katherine Jackson's suit, but warned Jackson's attorneys that they would need to show evidence of "fraud, negligent infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy" in order to win the case.

The judge has already said she doubts they can prove the latter charge, because the suit does not detail any agreement between Murray and AEG to break the law in providing medical care to Jackson.

"If the object was to get him to rehearsals, I don't see that as a wrongful or illegal act," the judge said. A lawyer for AEG told the judge that the company could not have predicted beforehand that Murray's medical decisions would result in Jackson's death. Court papers also show that AEG "did not choose to hire Murray" and had only participated in negotiations to bring him on as an independent contractor. Michael, who had previously been treated by Murray in Las Vegas, was reportedly the one who suggested the cardiologist serve as his personal, on-call physician during the "This Is It" rehearsals and shows.

Katherine Jackson's attorney recently dropped choreographer Kenny Ortega from the lawsuit based on new information they received about his actions. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 22, just six days before Murray is due back in court for his trial. Jackson's father, Joseph, has twice attempted to file a wrongful death suit in the matter, though his is focused on Murray and the Las Vegas pharmacy that supplied the propofol, not AEG Live.

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