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Jacksons appeal again for retrial of AEG litigation

By | Published on Friday 23 January 2015

Michael Jackson

Lawyers for Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine were back in court yesterday arguing once again for a retrial in her legal battle with AEG Live over its liability, or not, for the death of the late king of pop in 2009.

As much previously reported, the Jackson family say that AEG, promoters of the ill-fated ‘This Is It’ concert venture, should be held liable for the singer’s death as the employer of Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of manslaughter for causing the popstar’s death through negligent treatment.

Murray himself was left penniless after the death of his most famous client while on his watch, making it worthless for the Jackson family to sue him for the emotional and financial damage caused by their most famous son’s demise. If AEG could be held liable as well, though, well, it has money.

But, while AEG didn’t come out of the long-running trial considering the Jacksons’ arguments especially well, a jury agreed with the live firm’s key arguments: mainly that Jackson appointed Murray, and that the fact he was a licensed doctor was sufficient due diligence on the company’s part – ie it was fair for them to assume the medic wouldn’t give the singer the surgical drug propofol in a home setting.

Team Jackson argue that the jury in the original trial were given misleading information by the judge, and that he incorrectly dismissed some of the claims against the live music firm before the court case began. Those arguments were rejected by one appeals judge a year ago, but were being presented anew yesterday in a Californian court of appeal.

Though the appeal judges hearing the latest claim didn’t seem especially convinced by the Jackson team’s arguments. In a somewhat candid exchange, one of the appeal judges reportedly asked one of the Jacksons’ legal reps “what is the fault of AEG in this? I’m just lost in all of this”. The judge seemed entirely unconvinced that AEG could possibly have known about Murray’s use of propofol.

Continuing that theme, another judge said that while AEG might suspect Murray was administering painkillers and sleep drugs “isn’t it a stretch to go from that to propofol, which is beyond the pale?”

And AEG’s explicit knowledge – or not – of Murray’s use of propofol is the crux of this case, argued the live firm’s legal man Marvin Putnam. “Everyone in the world, not just AEG, learned about propofol [for the first time] because of this tragic death”, he said.

Having heard the various arguments yesterday, the appeals court will issue its decision in due course, though it’s not looking especially good for the Jacksons. They have already said they’ll take the matter to the Californian Supreme Court if their request for a retrial is denied this time.