New trial in Michael Jackson wrongful-death suit rejected
CNN News Wire | 1/13/2014, 4:21 p.m.
The judge who presided over the Michael Jackson wrongful-death trial last year issued a final rejection of the Jacksons’ request for a new trial on Monday.
The six-month-long trial ended in October with a victory for AEG Live, the concert promoter Jackson’s mother and children had claimed was liable for his death because it hired, retained or supervised the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death.
Lawyers for mother Katherine Jackson argued that the verdict form used by the jury was faulty and that the judge erred by refusing to let them pursue a negligence claim independent of the hiring case.
Their motion for a new trial filed in December included sworn statements from four of the 12 jurors saying they feel cheated by the outcome, which they blame on a misleading verdict form.
Jackson died from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009, which Dr. Conrad Murray told police he used to treat the pop icon’s insomnia as he prepared for a tour produced by AEG Live.
Los Angeles County Judge Yvette Palazuelos issued a tentative ruling earlier in January saying she did not err in her decisions on the verdict form or with the dismissal of the negligence claim.
She heard oral arguments on January 3 and filed her final decision denying the request on Monday.
Jackson lawyers have indicated they will appeal the jury’s verdict.
AEG Live lawyers filed statements from seven other jurors saying they were not confused by the verdict form.
The jurors cited by the Jackson motion used the words “stunned,” “upset” and “shocked” when they were told they had to stop deliberations after a majority agreed the answer was “no” to the second question on the verdict form: “Was Dr. Conrad Murray unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired?”
One juror called the question “a trap that prevented us from deliberating on the real issues of the case.”
“After sitting through almost six months of the trial in this case, I believed that Mrs. Jackson had proven her case against AEG LIve,” another juror said. “Despite this fact, I had no way of voting in favor of the plaintiffs because of the way that the verdict form was worded.”
Jackson lawyers, in their arguments for a new trial, contended that Palazuelos erred by denying their request to add the words “at any time” to the second question.