Wednesday, February 2


Michael Jackson's mother can sue the deep pockets behind the London concert series the King of Pop was about to begin when he died, a judge ruled today.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos denied a motion by AEG Live attorneys to dismiss the case, but said lawyers for the plaintiffs will have to provide evidence of fraud, negligent infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy, which the lawsuit alleges.

Attorney Kevin Boyle, speaking on behalf of the family, praised the ruling.

"I think the judge is very smart, and this was a great success for the plaintiffs," Boyle said.

The suit was filed on Sept. 15 on behalf of Katherine Jackson and her son's three children, Michael Jr., Paris-Michael Katherine and Prince Michael, also is known as Blanket.

The suit alleges AEG Live is responsible for the medical decisions made by Dr. Conrad Murray, the singer's personal physician at the time, who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death.

The suit alleges breach of contract, fraud, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and employer responsibility.

In their court papers, AEG Live attorneys stated that Jackson "controlled his own medical care and hired his own longtime personal physician." The company "did not choose or hire Dr. Murray, it merely conducted negotiations named at retaining him as an independent contractor on the tour."

AEG's legal team wrote that Jackson "was not helpless or incompetent; he lived in his own home, negotiated his own contracts, engaged his own attorneys and cared for his own family."

Arguing in favor of dismissing the negligent supervision claim, AEG Live attorney Marvin S. Putnam said his clients could not have realized beforehand that Murray's medical decisions could lead to the singer's death.

"It's not foreseeable that Michael Jackson or anyone else was going to die in their own home of propofol," Putnam said.

The suit portrays the singer as being "confused, easily frightened, unable to remember, obsessive and disoriented' in the months before his June 2009 death at age 50 in Los Angeles.

"He was cold and shivering during the summer rehearsals for his show, and as shown in photographs of him, he uncharacteristically wore heavy clothing during the rehearsals, while other dancers wore scant clothing and were perspiring from the heat,' the suit states.

Rather than cut back on the rehearsal schedule so that Jackson could recuperate, AEG "insisted that he attend every rehearsal in a grueling schedule, threatening that if he missed even one more they would cancel the tour ...," his mother alleges.

She claims AEG, "so that it could reap staggering profits from the tour," instructed Jackson to stop taking medication and that he be treated only by Murray.

Jackson's eldest son suffered negligent infliction of emotional distress when he "witnessed his father suffering and accordingly has suffered great trauma and severe emotional distress," the suit says. 

But according to AEG's response, the Jackson family lawyers do not allege the boy was present when Murray gave propofol to the singer, nor do they claim Michael Jr. was aware the physician was causing any harm to his father.

In her ruling, Palazuelos agreed with the AEG Live criticisms.

"The question is did he witness the negligence and did he understand what was going on," the judge said.

Palazuelos also said she had doubts about the civil conspiracy claim because there were no details in the complaint stating AEG Live and Murray had an agreement to do something unlawful.

"If the object was to get him to rehearsals I don't see that as a wrongful or an illegal act," Palazuelos said.

The judge gave the Jackson family lawyers 20 days to amend the complaint and she scheduled a case management conference for March 22.

Boyle said he expects the allegations Palazuelos found deficient to pass muster next time.



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