AEG Found Not Liable in Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Trial

Jury's verdict is in favor of concert promoter, not Jackson family.

Posted: 10/02/2013 05:24 PM EDT

A jury has found AEG Live not liable in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson, bringing the five-month trial to a close.

The verdict takes the concert promoter off the hook for wrongful death and is a blow to the Jackson family, who hoped to be paid close to $1 billion in damages and hold AEG responsible for hiring Conrad Murray, who gave Jackson a lethal dose of propofol leading to his death.

Jackson's mother Katherine Jackson and his three children filed suit against AEG Live in 2010, contending that the company was negligent in hiring, retaining or supervising Dr. Conrad Murray and the negligence was a factor in the singer's June 25, 2009, death. AEG Live was the promoter behind Jackson's This Is It comeback tour.

Jackson died of an overdose of propofol, which Murray told investigators he was using to treat the singer's insomnia so he could withstand the strenuous rehearsals for the tour. The pop superstar died in 2009, just days before the tour was set to kick off in London. 

Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for his part in Jackson's death and is currently incarcerated. He is set to be released later this month after serving two years.

The jury in the trial, who had to decide if AEG Live hired Murray and contributed to Jackson's death, began deliberating on September 26 after hearing testimony for the past five months. The Jackson family matriarch's legal team asserted that AEG was liable from somewhere between $900 million and $1.6 billion in economic loss, plus $290 million in personal damages for their negligence in hiring Murray and failing to supervise him.

AEG's defense focused on the notion that it was MJ who hired Murray (indeed, Murray was his personal physician for three years prior to the AEG Live deal) and the company was not privy to what kind of treatments he was receiving. They said, if anything, AEG would owe no more than $21 million, which is an estimate of how much they believe MJ would have given his mother and children as he was approximately $400 million in debt.

The Jackson family was counting on the "smoking gun" email sent by AEG Live Co-CEO Paul Gongaware 11 days before Jackson died to sway the jury. "We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary," the email said. "We want to remind him what is expected of him."

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