Nearly two years ago, Dr. Conrad Murray was sentenced to four years in jail after a LA County jury found the doctor guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's 2009 death. At trial, experts for the prosecution argued Dr. Murray was guilty of gross medical malpractice when he fatally infused the anesthesia drug propofol into Jackson for insomnia when the drug is intended for patients during surgery. An LA County jury is now hearing a civil wrongful death suit against the entertainment promotion company, AEG Live, brought on behalf of Jackson's mother and his children. Last week, the trial judge rejected AEG's motion to dismiss allowing the case to continue to go forward as both sides prepare for remaining witnesses and closing arguments.
The legal theory against AEG is less straightforward than the criminal medical malpractice case against Dr. Murray. The Jackson family lawyers argue AEG negligently hired, retained or supervised Dr. Murray to be Jackson's physician, paying him $150,000 a month, when they knew or should have known Dr. Murray presented an unreasonable risk of harm to Jackson. Specifically, the lawyers argue AEG contractually agreed to pay Dr. Murray $150,000 a month, an extraordinary figure for any physician to simply treat one patient, when AEG knew Dr. Murray was in desperate need of money and knew he would lose all his income if the tour was postponed or cancelled because of Jackson's deteriorating health. The lawyers argue this financial tension for Dr. Murray created a medical conflict of interest and ultimately contributed to Dr. Murray's decision to prescribe Jackson an illegal and highly dangerous drug in order to continue preparing for his tour.
AEG's lawyers argue they did not hire or control Dr. Murray--Jackson did. As a result, they contend they cannot be responsible for anything Dr. Murray did wrong. They further claim they had no way of knowing that Dr. Murray was giving Jackson the potentially fatal anesthesia drug, propofol, to treat Jackson for insomnia.