Finally. A jury verdict went against Michael Jackson.
And it’s long past time.
In death, the man who once seemed to have the justice system wrapped around his little finger finally came up short.
Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, and his three children, had sued concert promoter AEG Live, contending that AEG was responsible for Jackson’s 2009 death because it had hired Conrad Murray, the doctor who administered Jackson a fatal overdose of propofol.
But on Wednesday, after a five-month trial, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury found that although AEG was indeed responsible for hiring the deeply flawed doctor, Murray was not “unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired.”
Murray has already been held to account for his role in Jackson's death. Convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011, he is serving out the final month of his two-year incarceration in Men’s Central Jail.
There will be no billions of dollars in damages for the King of Pop's clan.
Their amazingly talented and tormented scion collaborated in his own death, committing a form of doctor-assisted suicide available to only the very rich.
“There was not one shred of evidence presented over five months to back up the fact that AEG could have known that Conrad Murray was doing that,” jury foreman Gregg Barden told HLN on Wednesday night. “At the time he was hired, he was fit. You could have checked him out six ways to Sunday and there was just no complaints there.”
AEG Live hired Murray to care for the 50-year-old Jackson as he prepared for his "This is It" comeback tour, not to administer the powerful surgical anesthetic that ultimately killed him. That was a side deal, worked out between the immensely powerful American musical icon who craved a drug he called his "milk," and a $150,000-a-month "concierge" physician who saw dollar signs instead of an addicted patient in serious need of intervention.
“If AEG had known what was going on behind closed doors, it would probably have made a difference, but they didn’t,” juror Kevin Smith said, according to my colleagues Jeff Gottlieb, Victoria Kim and Ruben Vives. “Michael Jackson was pretty used to getting his own way, he was a big star. He had all these doctors who wanted to be his doctors. And he could pretty much get what he wanted. If anybody said no, well they were out of the mix and he’d find somebody else. … How could AEG have done anything about it when they were kept in the dark?”
This verdict was a surprise, but it was smart.
It implicitly holds Michael Jackson responsible for his own tragic death, and in doing so strikes a much-needed blow for common sense.
[For the Record, 10 a.m. PDT Oct. 3: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified juror Kevin Smith as Calvin Smith.]
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