LOS ANGELES, October 2, 2013 — A jury has rejected a claim that the promoter of Michael Jackson’s comeback concerts was negligent in hiring the doctor who killed the superstar with a drug overdose.
The jury’s verdict was read Wednesday, roughly five months after opening statements in the long-running case filed by Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson. The panel of six men and six women began deliberating on Sept. 26, more than five months after the beginning of the trial that offered an unprecedented look into the superstar’s private life.
Jackson’s mother sued concert promoter AEG Live LLC for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray, convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol. Katherine Jackson claimed AEG Live should have done a thorough background check on Murray, who is due to be released in October after serving a two-year jail sentence.
AEG Live denied hiring Murray and said he had been chosen by the singer himself as the doctor for his upcoming shows. Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson the overdose as he prepared for a series of comeback shows.
The case provided new tabloid fodder for examining Jackson’s drug use. It also took jurors behind the scenes in the rough and tumble world of negotiations with one of the world’s most famous entertainers looking to solidify his legendary status after scandal interrupted his career.
Witnesses testified that the Gloved One regarded his scheduled “This Is It” concerts in London as an important chance to redeem himself in the public eye after being acquitted earlier of child molestation in another sensational case.
As the opening date of the shows approached, associates testified, he had bouts of insecurity and agonized over his inability to sleep. They said he turned to the drug propofol and found Murray, who was willing to buy it in bulk and administer it to him on a nightly basis even though the drug is not generally used outside operating rooms.
Testimony at the civil trial showed that only Jackson and Murray knew he was taking the drug. In his closing argument, AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam told jurors that the company would have pulled the plug on the shows if they knew he was using the anesthetic.
The Jackson family matriarch had been seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from AEG for herself and her son’s three children.
-—AP contributed to this report
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