Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos paved the way on Thursday for what could potentially be a long and grueling civil suit, brought on by Michael Jackson’s mother against concert giant AEG Live.
Katherine Jackson claims that AEG negligently hired Dr. Conrad Murray, a Houston cardiologist whose responsibility was to oversee Jackson throughout his rehearsals and the tenure of his marathon 50-night comeback This Is It worldwide tour.
This civil suit comes two years after a separate trial in which Murray was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail — the maximum sentence allowed under the law — for involuntary manslaughter of the pop superstar. Katherine Jackson claims that AEG did not perform an appropriate investigation of Murray, nor did they regulate Murray’s methods that included administering the powerful intravenous anesthetic propofol to Jackson to help him sleep.
Propofol in normal context is used to induce unconsciousness into individuals before and during a surgery. The drug's powerful and addictive qualities are commonly known in medical practice.
While exact numbers differ as to just how much Katherine Jackson’s lawsuit demands for, reports estimate that the late pop star’s mother is requesting $40 billion from AEG.
Katherine Jackson also made other claims in her civil lawsuit that included holding AEG reliable for Murray’s conduct and claiming AEG breached their duty to properly care for Jackson, but Palazuelos dismissed all but the one count pertaining to negligent hiring.
Palazuelos refused to approve of any inquiries into the finances of Jackson’s siblings or mentioning claims that family members had kidnapped Katherine Jackson and took her to Arizona last year.
The latter refers to Twitter messages Jackson’s three children blasted last year, claiming that their aunts and uncles were purposely keeping their grandmother away after the courts had granted Katherine Jackson custody of the king of pop’s three children — Prince Jackson, Paris Jackson, and Prince Michael Jackson II. The messages were deleted shortly after.
Palazuelos also prohibited mentioning of Jackson’s child molestation charges since the pop star was acquitted, although she would allow testimony that Jackson became reliant on drugs due to the charges and the subsequent negative backlash he received from the public.
During the legal rulings, Katherine Jackson was asked why she did not sue Murray. After all, Murray was the doctor who gave Jackson the powerful anesthetic that the pop star was known to fondly refer to as his "milk." Reports claim that Murray was well aware of Jackson’s dependence and went against all medical practices to fuel the pop star’s dependence.
Katherine Jackson responded that her grandchildren did not want to sue Murray and that they believed he was "a good person."
However, AEG’s attorney Marvin Putnam fired back and said "He has no money and that’s why they’re not suing him." When inquired by Palazuelos as to why AEG did not sue Murray as well, Putnam simply responded that AEG has no obligation to sue the convicted cardiologist.
Palazuelos estimated that the trial would last around three months. Jury selection will begin on April 2nd, but this in itself will be a lengthy process given the high-profile nature of the case.
Michael Jackson’s zeitgeist-capturing discography crowned him with accolades and royalty monikers, but the King of Pop was always under intense scrutiny. His brilliantly unprecedented performances came at the price of privacy, and the heavy toll was shown by the pop star’s bizarre behavior towards the latter end of his life.
Jackson wanted to create performances that were shocking and worth talking about. His talent continues to be recognized posthumously, but with the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his death and the successive and sensational amounts of public trials and family squabbles that have followed, it seems that Jackson will remain a topic of conversation for a long while — just not for the reasons the pop star had hoped.