LOS ANGELES -- Jurors have reached a verdict in the Michael Jackson
wrongful death civil trial filed by the late singer's mother against the
promoter of his comeback concerts.
The court was convening later this afternoon, when the verdict will be announced.
jury of six men and six women reported reaching a verdict on their
third day of deliberations after a bitterly contested trial that lasted
five months in a Los Angeles courtroom.
Katherine Jackson, Michael Jackson's mother, brought the case against
AEG Live LLC, the giant concert promoter that was producing the
singer's comeback concerts.
To reach a verdict, only nine of the 12 jurors needed to agree; A unanimous verdict was not required.
Jackson died in June 2009 of an overdose of the drug propofol, which is intended for use in surgery at hospitals.
a trial, Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty in November 2011 of
involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death for giving the singer an
overdose of propofol as a sleep aid. Just who was responsible for hiring
Murray to take care of Jackson before his comeback concerts was at the
heart of the family's negligence claim.
Jackson's lawyers depicted
the company as being more concerned with the profits a successful
concert run could generate than the singer's well-being.
Brian Panish, lawyer for Jackson's mother, urged the jury to find
that defendant AEG Live LLC and Jackson shared responsibility for hiring
Murray, who is serving a prison sentence.
AEG Live contends it
was pressured by Jackson to hire Murray as his personal physician.
Attorneys for the promoter argued that Jackson and Murray deceived the
promoter by concealing that Jackson, who complained of chronic insomnia,
was receiving the anesthetic propofol nightly in his home as a sleep
Panish urged the jury to find that AEG hired Murray without considering whether he was fit for the job.
"Propofol might not be the best idea," Panish said. "But if you have a competent doctor, you're not going to die."
contended that AEG executives including CEO Randy Phillips and co-CEO
Paul Gongaware disdained Jackson and pointed to an e-mail in which an
AEG attorney referred to Jackson as "the freak."
"They're a money-making machine," Panish said. "All they care about is how much money is this freak going to make for them.
Both executives were initially named as defendants but were dismissed from the case during the trial.
showed jurors details of a contract that was drafted by AEG Live but
only signed by Murray. He said it proved that AEG wanted to control the
AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam told jurors that Jackson
insisted on hiring Murray despite objections from AEG Live. The company
told Jackson there were great doctors in London, where his concerts
would be held, but the singer insisted, Putnam said.
"It was his money and he certainly wasn't going to take no for an answer," he said.
AEG attorneys showed the jury excerpts from the documentary film about the failed Jackson comeback, This Is It, to demonstrate that Jackson appeared in top form just 12 hours before he died.
"AEG Live did not have a crystal ball," Putnam said. "Dr. Murray and
Mr. Jackson fooled everyone. They want to blame AEG for something no one
He contended AEG would have pulled the plug on the concerts had it been aware Jackson was receiving the powerful drug.
would have never agreed to finance this tour if they knew Mr. Jackson
was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night," Putnam told
Panish said AEG should pay $85 million in personal damages
to each of Michael Jackson's three children, and $35 million to the
But potential economic damages could be larger.
Attorneys for the Jackson family argued that had he lived, the singer
could have made as much as $1.5 billion from the concerts, music,
endorsements and related revenue streams.
Putnam, the AEG
attorney, dismissed those calculations and presented expert testimony
putting economic damages far lower, at close to $21 million. AEG also
presented testimony showing Jackson had a history of erratic behavior
and canceled shows.