3:41pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
Michael Jackson's Family Can't Revive $1.5 Billion AEG Case
The family of Michael Jackson has lost its appeal in the case over whether the late pop star's concert promoter should be held liable for his death.
California's Court of Appeals handed down judgment Friday that the Los Angeles Superior Court didn't decide in error in the proceedings leading up to the 2013 trial over AEG Live's potential responsibility for Jackson's death.
In the lawsuit, filed by the pop star's mother, Katherine Jackson, in 2010 seeking $1.5 billion in damages, the family argued that the concert promoter had negligently hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for providing Jackson the anesthetic that caused his death.
In pretrial proceedings, the promoter won summary decisions against the Jacksons' claims of negligence and respondeat superior liability. The remaining cause of action — negligent hiring, retention and supervision — went to trial in October 2013. The jury found that while AEG had hired Murray, it wasn't responsible for his actions as an independent contractor and denied the Jacksons' claims.
In the appeal, they targeted the trial court's summary decisions, contending that triable issues of fact exist with regard to the claims the court threw out. They held that questions remained as to whether the promoter was negligent in pressuring Murray into creating unsafe conditions for Jackson, whether it was due to provide protective services to the star and whether Murray acted as an independent contractor or an employee or agent of AEG.
The appellate court disagreed, upholding the trial court's decisions.
"AEG did not owe Michael a duty to refrain from exerting pressure over Dr. Murray, AEG did not undertake to provide protective services to Michael and AEG owed Michael no duty arising out of the contract with Dr. Murray," the appeal reads. "The undisputed facts establish that Dr. Murray was an independent contractor as a matter of law, AEG is not liable under the peculiar risk doctrine as an independent contractor and Dr. Murray is not an agent of AEG."
The appeal contended that the trial court had erroneously instructed the jury in coming to their decision. The appellate court found the instructions to have been appropriate.
Attorneys for the Jackson family haven't yet responded to THR's requests for comment.