LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — AEG Live was cleared of wrongdoing Wednesday as jurors reached a verdict in Michael Jackson’s wrongful death trial.
Michael Jackson’s mother, 83-year-old Katherine Jackson, filed a lawsuit against AEG Live in Sept. 2010 on behalf of herself and her son’s three children. She claimed AEG negligently hired Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer as he prepared for his ill-fated “This Is It” comeback concert series and sought to have the firm held liable for her son’s death.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death and sentenced in November 2011 to four years in the Los Angeles County men’s jail.
The 12-person jury found that AEG Live did hire Murray to care for Jackson but did not find the physician unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired. KCAL9’s Randy Paige reports Katherine Jackson was in the Los Angeles courtroom as the verdict was read but gave no visible reaction.
AEG Live lead attorney Marvin Putnam and general counsel Shawn Trell spoke to members of the media shortly after the verdict was read, commending the jurors for their service during the 80-day trial and revealing their team is pleased with the outcome.
“Obviously we’re very pleased with the result,” Trell said. “We’re very grateful to the jury for the result that they reached.”
“It’s remarkable to have a five-month long trial and not one juror left the jurors’ box,” he said.
Putnam also indicated that AEG never considered negotiating a settlement with the Jackson family, contending that his client was in no way negligent.
“We didn’t consider settling for the very important reason that AEG Live didn’t do something wrong here and they weren’t going to allow themselves to be shaken down,” he said, adding that entertaining a settlement of any kind would have been “inappropriate”.
Jackson family attorney Kevin Boyle said that his team plans to explore its options.
“We of course are not happy with the result as it stands now,” Boyle said. “We will be exploring all options legally and facutally and will make a decision at a later time.”
The jury foreman, juror number six Gregg Barden, said outside the courtroom he felt the appropriate verdict was reached.
“We reached a verdict that we understand not everybody is going to agree with,” he said.
Barden also revealed that the wording of the second question on the jury form – asking if Murray was “unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired” – narrowed the jurors’ decision.
“Conrad Murray was hired to be a general practitioner. Conrad Murray had a license. He graduated from an accredited college… That doesn’t mean we felt he was ethical, and maybe if the word ‘ethical’ was in the question, it might have been a different outcome,” he said.
AEG officials argued throughout the trial the pop star’s death was a matter of personal, not corporate, responsibility.
Attorneys for the company, who rested their defense Sept.18, argued Jackson maintained secrecy surrounding his medical care, including the treatment Dr. Conrad Murray provided the pop star inside his bedroom when he died from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol in June 2009.
Attorneys for the Jackson family told the jury a reasonable compensation for the loss of Michael Jackson would be $85 million for each of Jackson’s three children and $35 million for his mother.
The jury began deliberating Sept. 26., about five months after opening statements were made.
Judge Yvette Palazuelos presided over the case.
AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips and co-CEO Paul Gongaware were dismissed as defendants last month.