After five months of quarrelsome testimony, jurors are now deliberating in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial. The lawsuit stems from Jackson's untimely death caused by an overdose of the drug propofol given to him by his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. The defendant, AEG Live, is a concert promoter who was paying Dr. Murray $150,000 a month to treat Jackson. Unlike the criminal lawsuit against Dr. Murray involving allegations of gross medical malpractice, the civil suit against AEG Live alleges the promoter negligent hired, retained and/or supervised Dr. Murray when they knew or should have known Dr. Murray presented an unreasonable risk of harm to Jackson.
During closing arguments, AEG Live's lawyer argued Jackson is responsible for his own death, not his concert promoter. He reminded the jury that Jackson had been seeing Dr. Murray for years before AEG Live began promoting Jackson's upcoming tour. He argued it is unfair to hold his client responsible for Jackson' death which occurred from a drug overdose in his bedroom, at night, behind locked doors. In short, the defense argued they did nothing wrong and Jackson caused his own death.
The lawyer for Jackson's family conceded that Jackson played a role in his own death but argued AEG Live also played a role and, therefore, shares some responsibility. The family's lawyer reminded jurors that AEG Live contractually agreed to and did pay Dr. Murray $150,000 a month to treat Jackson. There was testimony that AEG Live knew Jackson was in deteriorating health and knew Dr. Murray would was desperate for money--so desperate that he was willing to do everything he could to continue receiving his hefty monthly payments from AEG to keep Jackson on track for his upcoming tour promoted by AEG Live. Dr. Murray's financial desperation, Jackson's lawyers argued, created a medical conflict of interest for Dr. Murray prompting the doctor to prescribe illegal medical treatment that needlessly endangered Jackson's life.
Based on the trial judge's rulings, the jury must first answer a critically important written question during deliberations: did AEG live hire Dr. Murray? If the answer is no, the case is over for the Jackson family. As evidence of an employment relationship, Jackson's lawyer presented evidence AEG's lawyer emailed an employment contract to Dr. Murray to sign. Dr. Murray signed the contract and faxed it back to AEG Live's lawyer. However, the CEO of AEG Live had not yet signed the contract. The next day, Jackson died. Interestingly, the start date listed on the contract was a month before Jackson had died; the jury could conclude written employment contract simply memorialized what had already been agreed to and implemented.
If the jury finds AEG Live negligently hired Dr. Murray and this negligence was a cause of Jackson's death, the jury must award damages to the family. The family has requested damages between $1 billion and $2 billion to replace the amount Jackson allegedly would have earned touring had he not died, and for loss of a son and father. AEG's lawyers argued that if they are found liable, the damages should be around $21 million based on their calculations. If the jury finds liability and awards damages, those damages will be reduced depending upon what percentage of Jackson's death, they believe, was caused by Jackson himself. If the jury, for example, finds Jackson 50% responsible for his own death, AEG would be liable for no more than 50% of the verdict amount.
Lawyer: Michael Jackson Death Trial: Jury To Resume Deliberations Friday, September 26, 2013.
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