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LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Jurors began a third full day of deliberations today in the trial of Katherine Jackson’s negligence lawsuit against AEG Live over the death of her superstar son, Michael, while he was rehearsing for a series of 50 London concerts.
Katherine Jackson alleges the concert promoter hired Dr. Conrad Murray as Michael Jackson’s physician and failed to supervise him, leading to the pop sensation’s 2009 death from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours Thursday, a full day Friday and all day Tuesday for a total of roughly 10 1/2 hours.
During his closing argument, Jackson family attorney Brian Panish insisted that AEG Live was responsible for hiring Murray, who is behind bars for giving the singer a fatal overdose of propofol. AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam argued, however, that AEG never hired Murray and that it was Jackson himself who brought the cardiologist aboard.
Unlike in a criminal trial, the jury of six men and six women does not have to reach a unanimous decision for there to be a verdict; agreement by nine jurors is the requirement for a verdict in a civil trial.
Shortly after the panel began deliberating Thursday, it sent a note requesting a variety of office supplies and copies of Murray’s never-signed independent contractor agreement, along with a video player and a copy of the “This Is It” documentary film, which was based on Jackson’s rehearsals for the series of scheduled concerts in England.
Katherine Jackson, the 83-year-old family matriarch, sued in September 2010 on behalf of herself and her son’s three children, Michael Jr., Paris-Michael Katherine and Prince Michael, claiming that AEG Live hired Murray to be Jackson’s personal physician.
Jackson died of propofol intoxication at age 50 on June 25, 2009, at the rented Holmby Hills estate where he lived while rehearsing in the Southland for the “This Is It” concerts.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering the powerful anesthetic and sentenced in November 2011 to four years in the Los Angeles County men’s jail. He is scheduled to be released Oct. 28 — an early release due to behavior credits and overcrowding in the jails.
Panish suggested that jurors award Katherine Jackson and the singer’s three children as much as $1.5 billion, although he conceded that Jackson likely bore about 20 percent responsibility for his own death. He insisted, however, that AEG live should be held accountable for about 80 percent of the negligence involved.
Putnam argued that his clients never hired Murray and that the cardiologist, in fact, had been one of many doctors who had treated the singer in the past. Putnam also said Jackson had a drug problem for years before he entered into any agreements to perform on behalf of AEG Live.
Bill Hetherman | City News Service