By City News Service
A judge finalized her ruling that denies Katherine Jackson a new trial of her lawsuit against concert-promoter AEG Live stemming from the 2009 death of her pop superstar son, Michael Jackson.
The decision issued Tuesday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos adopts the tentative ruling she issued Friday, when she heard arguments from attorneys and took the case under submission. It also clears the way for Katherine Jackson's lawyers to file an appeal.
In their court papers, Katherine Jackson's attorneys -- citing juror statements -- claimed flaws in jury instructions and in the verdict form establish that a different outcome might have occurred Oct. 2 instead of the verdict in favor of the promoters of the singer's never-realized comeback concerts in London.
"Even if you wanted to find for the plaintiff you really could not," plaintiffs' attorney Deborah Chang told Palazuelos during Friday's hearing.
Four jurors submitted sworn statements on behalf of the plaintiffs.
"After sitting through almost six months of the trial in this case, I believed that Mrs. Jackson had proven her case against AEG Live," one juror stated in an affidavit. "Despite this fact, I had no way of voting in favor of the plaintiffs because of the way that the verdict form was worded."
But the judge struck all juror affidavits submitted by both sides.
Chang said the lawsuit "should have been a negligence case" rather than one that dealt with whether AEG Live appropriately hired, retained and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray as Michael Jackson's personal physician.
However, AEG Live attorneys contended in their court papers that Katherine Jackson's lawyers were raising new issues and that the juror affidavits filed in support of their motion were inadmissible.
"After failing to prove their case during five months of trial, plaintiffs' now attack the jury's unanimous verdict and this court's rulings," AEG Live lawyers stated in their court papers. "While plaintiffs' notice of intent to move for new trial raised every single possible statutory ground available under the Code of Civil Procedure ..., plaintiffs now abandon all (their) arguments except irregularity in the proceedings and error in law."
After nearly 14 hours of deliberations over four days, the six-man, six- woman jury determined that AEG Live did hire Murray as Jackson's doctor, but it answered "no" to question No. 2, which asked if Murray was "unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired."
With that answer, the jury denied any damages to Katherine Jackson and to Michael Jackson's three children.
Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Jackson's death, has since been released from jail. Jackson died June 25, 2009, at age 50 of acute propofol intoxication.
In documents filed earlier this month, the Jackson lawyers claimed that once the jurors found Murray was competent at the time he was hired, the panel could not go any further and examine his subsequent conduct.
"As given, these instructions and the verdict form were misleading and erroneous in that they did not distinguish between a negligent hiring claim and a negligent retention or supervision claim (what the employer knew or should have known during the course of the relationship)," the Jackson attorneys' stated in their court papers.
By forcing the jury to stop deliberating after they concluded Murray's capabilities were up to par when he was hired, the form never allowed the jurors to consider AEG Live's separate ongoing duties relating to supervision and retention, the Jackson attorneys' court papers stated.
AEG Live attorneys stated in their court papers that Katherine Jackson's lawyers were trying to "muddy the waters" with the four jurors' sworn statements.
The state's Evidence Code "flatly forbids (a judge) from considering juror affidavits that concern the mental processes by which the verdict was determined," the defense attorneys stated in their court papers. "Indeed, the court's consideration of these affidavits would constitute reversible error."
Katherine Jackson, 83, sued in September 2010 on behalf of herself and her son's three children -- Michael Jr., Paris-Michael Katherine and Prince Michael -- claiming that AEG Live hired Murray to be Jackson's personal physician and failed to properly supervise him.Katherine Jackson and many members of the Jackson family lived for decades lived in Encino, but she currently reside in Calabasas.