LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A judge issued jury instructions Monday in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of the late Michael Jackson against entertainment promoter AEG Live.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos read the 64-page instructions to the jurors, who will be tasked with reaching a verdict in the high-profile suit.
Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, alleges the concert giant was negligent in hiring and supervising Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer as he prepared for his ill-fated “This Is It” comeback tour.
Jackson died in 2009 after receiving a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol from the doctor. Murray was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
AEG denies any wrongdoing and maintains Murray was brought on at Jackson’s request.
The first question jurors must answer is whether AEG Live hired Murray. If the jury’s answer is no, the case is over and the Jackson family loses.
If jurors determine that AEG did hire Murray, or if they decide AEG and Michael Jackson both hired the former doctor, the jury will go on to decide the question of negligence.
According to the jury instructions, jurors can determine that both parties were negligent in contributing to Jackson’s death.
“A person’s negligence may combine with another factor to cause harm,” the jury instructions read.
The document goes on to say “AEG Live cannot avoid responsibility just because some other person, condition or event was also a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs’ harm.”
If the jury decides both Michael Jackson and AEG were negligent, they will then be asked to determine the percentage of negligence for each party.
“The jury for example could find that AEG is 75 percent at fault and that Michael Jackson was 25 percent at fault,” said Kevin Boyle, an attorney for the Jackson family. “In that case what would happen is that the verdict amount would be reduced by 25 percent.”
AEG Live lead attorney Marvin Putnam told CBS2′s Randy Paige he does not believe the jury will be asked to make that determination.
“I believe they never get there,” said Putnam. “Because they have to have found other things before they get to that point. In other words, they have to find that we hired him. They have to find that we hired him negligently. They have to find that we were to blame for his death. But despite all that he also had some blame.”
Attorneys for both sides will begin closing arguments Tuesday morning. They are expected to last for three days before the case goes to the jury.