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Jury rejects case linking company to Jackson death

LOS ANGELES — A jury cleared a concert promoter of negligence Wednesday in a case that attempted to link the death of Michael Jackson to the company that promoted his ill-fated comeback shows.

The panel rejected a lawsuit brought by Jackson's mother claiming that AEG Live was negligent in hiring Conrad Murray, the doctor who killed Jackson with an overdose of a hospital anesthetic that the singer used as a sleep aid.

The five-month trial provided the closest look yet at Jackson's drug use and his battles against chronic pain and insomnia.

It also took jurors behind the scenes in the rough-and-tumble world of negotiations with one of the world's most famous entertainers looking to solidify his legendary status after scandal interrupted his career.

With its verdict, the jury also delivered a somewhat surprising message: Jurors did not believe that Murray was unfit or incompetent to perform his duties involving Jackson.

"That doesn't mean we felt he was ethical," jury foreman Gregg Barden said after the verdict was read.

He said the panel knew that many people would not agree with the verdict but explained that the jury followed the language of the verdict form and instructions.

The ruling on the competence of Murray ended any further consideration of possible damages and who was at fault for the death.

A victory could have meant hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for Katherine Jackson and the singer's three children and provided a rebuke of AEG Live, the nation's second-largest concert promoter.

Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson the overdose as the singer prepared for the comeback concerts dubbed This Is It. Witnesses at the trial said Jackson saw the concerts as a chance for personal redemption after being acquitted of child molestation.

But as the opening date of the shows approached, associates testified, he had bouts of insecurity and agonized over his inability to sleep. They said he turned to the drug propofol and found Murray, who was willing to buy it in bulk and administer it to him nightly, even though it is not meant to be used outside operating rooms.

Jury rejects case linking company to Jackson death 10/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 11:33pm]
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