LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Monday dismissed two defendants in Katherine Jackson’s $40 billion negligence suit against concert promoter AEG Live.
Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos ruled in favor of AEG’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that Jackson’s attorneys have failed to prove their case against the two individual executives who were promoting pop star Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” comeback tour before his death in June 2009.
Executives Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware were accused of negligence in hiring Conrad Murray, the doctor who was convicted in Nov. 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for administering a fatal dose of anesthetic to Jackson to relieve insomnia.
Murray is now serving a four-year prison sentence and has been stripped of his license to practice medicine in California, Texas and Nevada.
The ruling leaves AEG Live, one of the nation’s largest concert promoters, as a defendant in the case.
AEG’s lead attorney Marvin Putnam spoke to CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige just before making the call to share the news with his clients, Phillips and Gongaware.
“Well, I think it’s great,” Putnam said of the dismissal.
“I expect they’ll be very excited, through at the same time – I’ll be frank with you – they’ve done everything in their power, these plaintiffs have, to ruin their names and to run their good reputations through the mud with false accusations all over the place that the court has just deemed to be legally irrelevant,” he said.
The Jackson family’s lead attorney Brian Panish said that the ruling was actually in his clients’ favor.
“The judge again has found that there is substantial evidence that AEG knew or should have known that Dr. Murray would violate the [Hippocratic] Oath,” Panish said.
“It will change nothing in the case other than – contrary to what AEG – they wanted the case thrown out. They felt that the judge should not allow the case to go to the jury. And they lost,” he said.
Legal analyst Royal Oakes told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the judge’s dismissal is unlikely to affect any potential settlement once the case is decided.
“The big deal for the Jackson family is they’ve got to go against AEG, the deep pockets, billions of dollars,” Oakes explained. “Whether or not the individual executives stay as defendants, not really a huge deal.”
Attorneys for AEG say that they will wrap up the defense in the next week by calling two Jackson family members, including the late singer’s son, Prince.
The case continues.