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Michael Jackson’s death continues to keep the US courts busy

By | Published on Monday 9 January 2012

Michael Jackson

It may be a new year, but still the fall out from the 2009 death of Michael Jackson rumbles on. And first up, the insurer of the late king of pop’s ill-fated ‘This Is It’ residency at London’s The O2 has successfully fought off efforts by the show’s promoter, AEG Live, to stop the firm getting its hands on paperwork relating to the cancelled venture.

As previously reported, Lloyds Of London is trying to get out of paying AEG $17.5 million to cover some of the costs the live firm incurred by having to cancel the ‘This Is It’ season after Jackson’s sudden demise due to a drug overdose. Lloyds claims that AEG failed to provide key information about Jackson’s medical condition, and his routine use of prescription medication, when taking out its insurance policy, thus rendering the agreement void. AEG does not concur.

When Lloyds went legal last June one of its complaints was that AEG had been withholding key documents that the insurer needs in order to assess the live firm’s conduct when applying for insurance cover in early 2009.

Responding to the lawsuit late last year, AEG asked the judge hearing the case that he delay all proceedings relating to the Lloyds litigation – including the handing over of any documents – until after the conclusion of two other lawsuits relating to Michael Jackson’s death, those being brought by both of the singer’s parents against AEG. Katherine and Joe Jackson claim the promoter is in part liable for their son’s demise because it hired Conrad Murray, the doctor who, the criminal courts have ruled, caused Michael Jackson’s death through negligence.

Considering that motion last week, Judge Malcolm Mackey said that he was happy to delay the actual court hearing for the Lloyds case until after the Jacksons v AEG cases, but that didn’t mean the live music firm couldn’t hand over the documents the insurer requires to prepare its case in the meantime. He also appointed a referee to oversee the document exchange process.

Lloyds says it doesn’t have a problem with the actual court hearing regarding its litigation being delayed until after the Jacksons v AEG cases, but welcomed Mackey’s decision to grant access to all important documents in the meantime. It remains to be seen what course this squabble now takes, Mackey actually predicted this dispute would ultimately be settled out of court before any hearing could actually take place.

Elsewhere, and back to Murray himself, and the doctor has been asked to return his medical licence to the Californian Medical Board, as the body prepares to fully revoke it. Murray was licensed to practice medicine in three states, Nevada and Texas as well as California. After Jackson’s death, he was allowed to continue to practice in Nevada and Texas, though the medical board of the latter banned him from administering anaesthetics. According to Reuters, the Nevada Medical Board is now also going through the process of revoking Murray’s licence, though it’s unclear what the position is in Texas.

Though, of course, Murray is currently serving a four year jail sentence, so is unable to use any licences in the short term anyway. And legal matters relating to medical licences are probably the last of Murray’s worries at the moment, given that he’s hoping to appeal his criminal conviction, plus there’s still the matter of restitution and the aforementioned Katherine and Joe Jackson lawsuits to deal with.

And as of last week another lawsuit too, launched by a 100 of the late king of pop’s fans who are suing for the “emotional damage” they suffered as a result of Jackson’s death. It’s an optimistic bit of litigation, but the lawyer representing the fans told the AFP: “It’s similar to losing a childhood friend in a traffic accident. Because this death affects you, you have the possibility to file a suit and seek compensation”. And before you start musing to yourself “those crazy Yanks”, we should note the emotionally damaged and rather litigious Jackson fans are French.

So, more gloom for Murray. Though if it’s any compensation to the incarcerated medic, the other doctor he believes should accept some responsibility for Michael Jackson’s demise isn’t having that great a time of it either. As previously reported, Murray’s legal team reckons Jackson was addicted to prescription painkiller medication, which they say he received – unbeknownst to Murray at the time – from his long term friend and dermatologist Dr Arnold Klein.

It was that addiction, fed by Klein, Team Murray alleged, that resulted in Jackson suffering from acute insomnia, in turn resulting in their client administering the fatal dose of propofol. The allegations were never tested in court, though, because the judge hearing Murray’s case deemed them irrelevant (not least because the painkiller in question wasn’t in Jackson’s system at the time of his death), and the dermatologist was not even called to testify. Nor has he been charged for any misconduct.

But the claims have nevertheless circulated outside the courtroom and, according to various newspaper reports, it’s had a hugely detrimental affect on Klein’s business, meaning he now makes in the region of $500 a day, rather than demanding daily fees of $25,000. Of course $2500 a week is still an OK salary, but not when you’re used to a millionaire’s lifestyle as dermatologist to the stars, and as a result the doctor now faces bankruptcy and has had to turn to celebrity friends for help to cover his legal costs.

That said, Klein claims that his current financial meltdown, although in part caused by unproven allegations regarding his treatment of Jackson, is really the result of his business associates embezzling millions of his money over the years, and some of his legal costs are being run up suing those associates. Though those accused of embezzlement, including the doctor’s accountant Muhammad Khilji, deny any wrong doing, and say that the situation has occurred because Klein continued to live a millionaire’s lifestyle even after his business collapsed following the death of Michael Jackson.

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