The jury has spoken in the Jackson versus AEG wrongful death case, finding the concert promoter was not liable for Michael Jackson's drug overdose. The five month-long trial yielded Jackson's children and his mother nothing in damages. I fear it may have actually cost them much more. I'm a strong believer in the jury system and would have supported the verdict either way. In this case, I could not agree more with the decision. While the jury found that AEG hired Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, to care for the artist, they ruled the promoter was not negligent in doing so. Murray was convicted in 2011 for injecting Jackson with a fatal dose of the anesthetic, propofol. He is still serving his sentence in jail.
For a brief time following Michael Jackson's death, his reputation seemed resurrected, with millions of fans once again focusing on his music. The documentary This Is It chronicling the buildup and rehearsals for the ill-fated London concert tour cemented Jackson's reputation as an artistic genius. His records were once again selling in the millions. Jackson's estate which was estimated to be $400 million in debt at the time of his death, was turned around in dramatic fashion by the deft efforts of the estate's executors.
Things changed for the worse when the wrongful death claim filed by Jackson's three children and his eight-three year old mother against AEG finally went to trial earlier this year. My first reaction was that any monetary judgment for the Jackson family would be blood money. During the five-month trial, witnesses took the stand and revealed sordid details about Jackson's alleged molestations, drug addiction and abuse, subjects which Jackson had fought so vigorously during his life to keep out of the headlines.
Jackson's daughter, Paris, attempted to take her own life during the trial. Many speculated it was due to the upsetting revelations from witnesses and pressures of her upcoming testimony. Tom Mesereau, who so brilliantly defended the singer and entertainer in 2005 against allegations of molestation, told me he thought this jury could return a verdict of $1 billion for Jackson's children. While I respect Mesereau immensely and always defer to his legal analysis, that outcome never quite felt right to me. After all, who could have predicted that Conrad Murray, or any doctor, would give Michael Jackson propofol as a sleep aid, a use for which it was never intended? Prior to Murray's manslaughter case few people, other than anesthesiologists, even heard of the powerful drug. But Jackson had been using it on himself for more than a decade.
The jury has spoken in this latest case and found in favor of AEG. Michael Jackson died in June, 2009. When this verdict was announced, I suspect that part of Jackson's legacy may have died as well.
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