Jurors in the Michael Jackson wrongful-death case sided with AEG Live that the singer's death was a tragedy -- but not one for which the concert promoter was responsible.
After three days of deliberations, the jury unanimously agreed that AEG Live hired the doctor, who gave the singer a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol. But they said Dr. Conrad Murray was competent and awarded no money to the pop star's family.
"There are really no winners in this," jury foreman Gregg Barden said. "Somebody had to die for us to be here. ... It was really a tragic situation."
Barden said the jurors struggled with questions about Murray. They found him competent to serve as a general practitioner -- he had a medical license from an accredited university.
"We felt he was competent," Barden said. "That doesn’t mean we felt he was ethical. If ethical was in the question, it might have been a different outcome. In the end, he was very unethical. He did something he shouldn’t have done. "
Attorneys for the family had said that economic damages could surpass $1 billion. They wanted each of Jackson's children awarded $85 million and another $35 million paid to Katherine Jackson.
Jackson’s mother and three children brought the lawsuit, saying AEG Live hired and supervised Murray.
In a written statement, AEG's lead attorney, Marvin Putnam said: “The jury’s decision completely vindicates AEG Live, confirming what we have known from the start -- that although Michael Jackson’s death was a terrible tragedy, it was not a tragedy of AEG Live’s making."
Randy Phillips, an AEG executive named in the lawsuit, said in a statement: "We lost one of the world’s greatest musical geniuses, but I am relieved and deeply grateful that the jury recognized that neither I, nor anyone else at AEG Live, played any part in Michael’s tragic death."
Katherine Jackson left the courthouse without talking to reporters.
The case, which delved into Jackson’s drug use, his emotional state and his physical health, never strayed far from the central question of whether it was the singer himself who was to blame for his own demise by insisting on hiring the doctor who killed him, or AEG for directing and controlling the physician.
Several fans had gathered to hear the verdict.
"I don't like it," said Leslie Cole, 41. "I really don't like it."
Barbara De L'orme, 42, of Studio City, wore a T-shirt with a picture of Katherine Jackson. She said she felt devastated by the verdict.
"My heart is broken," she said. "This was the greatest artist that we ever had and they treated him like this. The evidence was right there."
[For the record, 4:20 p.m. PDT, Oct. 2: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled the last name of Jackson fan Barbara De L'orme as De Lorry.]
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