Michael Jackson's final concert promoter, AEG Live, was not responsible for the pop star's death in 2009, a California jury decided yesterday after a five-month trial. Jackson's family had sought $1.5 billion in damages from the company, which is the second-largest concert promoter in the world.
The singer's family, led by his 83-year-old mother, Katherine, had accused AEG of negligence in hiring Conrad Murray, the doctor who gave Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25th, 2009, saying the promoter was more concerned with the massive profits it envisioned from Jackson's planned 50-concert stand in London than in making sure the star was healthy enough to perform. AEG argued that Jackson was responsible for his own death, and portrayed the singer as a drug abuser who masked the depth of his addiction while seeking doctors who would prescribe him the medications he had come to rely on.
After four days of deliberations, the jury agreed that AEG Live was responsible for hiring Murray, who is serving a prison sentence after his 2011 conviction on involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with Jackson's death. But the six men and six women on the panel rejected the family's contention that the doctor was not competent to treat Jackson, who died two weeks before the concerts at O2 Arena were to have begun.
AEG's lawyer praised the verdict, saying in a statement reported by The New York Times that the jury's decision made clear "what we have known from the start – that although Michael Jackson's death was a terrible tragedy, it was not a tragedy of AEG Live's making."
Jackson's mother left the Los Angeles courtroom after the verdict was read without making any statement.