LOS ANGELES — A jury cleared a concert promoter of negligence on 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 AEG Live was negligent in hiring Conrad Murray, the doctor who killed Jackson with an overdose of a hospital anesthetic the singer used as a sleep aid.
The five-month trial provided a close look at Jackson's drug use and his battles against chronic pain and insomnia.
It also took jurors behind the scenes in the world of negotiations with one of the world's most famous entertainers.
With its verdict, the jury also delivered a somewhat surprising message: Jurors did not believe Murray was unfit or incompetent to perform his duties involving Jackson.
“That doesn't mean we felt he was ethical,” foreman Gregg Barden said after the verdict was read.
He said the panel knew many people would not agree with the verdict but said 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. AEG Live lawyers suggested throughout the trial Jackson was the only one to blame for his death.
“AEG didn't do anything wrong and would not allow themselves to be shaken down,” lead defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam said.
After the hearing, juror Bryant Carino, of Los Angeles, was asked who was to blame for the death.
“I'm not one to point fingers,” he said. Katherine Jackson told reporters she was OK after the verdict.
A victory could have meant hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for her and the singer's three children and provided a rebuke of AEG Live, the nation's second-largest concert promoter.
Kevin Boyle, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, said he was disappointed with the verdict.
“We will be exploring all options legally and factually and make a decision about anything at a later time.”
AEG Live is controlled by Philip Anschutz, whose affiliates own The Oklahoma Publishing Company, OPUBCO Communications Group, The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com.