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Should AEG be held liable for Michael Jackson’s death?

Music legend Michael Jackson died on June 25th, 2009 from a heart attack attributed to a combination of drugs prescribed by his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. Jackson at the time was in the rehearsal stage for an upcoming comeback tour sponsored by entertainment giant AEG.

Michael Jackson’s death?

Dr. Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 and sentenced to four years in prison. In a trial that began April 29th, 2013, Jackson’s mother and three children are suing AEG for more than a billion dollars in a wrongful death lawsuit claiming AEG negligently hired and negligently supervised Dr. Murray.

The Arguments for AEG Liability

The plaintiffs may argue that AEG pushed Jackson to conform to a schedule that he was not physically fit for and likewise pressured Dr. Murray to do whatever it took to get Jackson on stage, without due regard for his health and well-being. They will argue that AEG was guilty of negligent hiring in selecting Dr. Murray, who apparently was deeply in debt and therefore may have had ethical dilemmas regarding the care and treatment of his patient. The plaintiffs may also claim that AEG is liable for negligent supervision. Emails which have surfaced suggest that the show’s director was concerned about Jackson’s health and health care when Dr. Murray kept Jackson away from a rehearsal. The director made his concern known to an AEG executive, who responded by warning the director not to become an amateur physician. The executive said he had immense respect for Dr. Murray, and that he “is extremely successful (we checked everyone out) and does not need this gig, so he totally unbiased and ethical.”

Defense will say Murray was hired by Jackson, not AEG

The defense is likely to counter that Murray was not employed by AEG but instead was hired by Jackson himself as his personal physician. Although Dr. Murray’s $150,000 (per month!) salary was to be paid by AEG, the defense characterizes this arrangement as an advance payment to Jackson. Rather than focusing on Murray’s debt, the defense wants to shine the spotlight on Jackson’s own financial troubles, suggesting that Jackson was aggressively pursuing the comeback tour and pushing himself beyond his limits, in opposition to the plaintiff’s picture of AEG aggressively pursuing Jackson and pushing him to perform. At Fetterman & Associates, our attorneys recognize the importance of identifying all the parties who may be legally responsible for causing a personal injury or wrongful death. We understand the various legal theories which may be applicable in any particular situation and what it takes to prepare and present a persuasive case to judge or jury. In Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie, contact Fetterman & Associates for a free consultation with an experienced and successful personal injury lawyer.

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