As the long running and much previously reported Jacksons v AEG Live court case rumbles on and on and on and on, the live giant has scored a mini-victory as the judge hearing the case struck two of its executives – Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware – off the defendants list. It means only the AEG Live company could be held liable for the death of Michael Jackson back in 2009.
The Jackson family, of course, reckon that the live firm should be held liable for the late king of pop’s demise because, as promoters of the singer’s ‘This Is It’ venture, it covered the bills of Dr Conrad Murray, the medic jailed for causing the pop star’s death through negligent treatment. At the heart of the case is whether AEG hired and managed Murray, or whether they simply advanced the cash, and actually Jackson himself was responsible for recruiting and coordinating the negligent doc.
Phillips and Gongaware, as the two most senior AEG Live execs closest to the Jackson project, were listed as defendants alongside their employer. But, while neither man came across especially well when they gave testimonies earlier in the trial, yesterday judge Yvette Palazuelos ruled that the Jackson’s legal team had failed to show enough evidence that either exec was personally liable for the hiring or alleged mismanagement of Murray.
It means that when the jury finally starts its deliberations on the case, hopefully later this month, they will only have to consider whether AEG Live itself was liable. Parent company AEG and its then CEO Tim Leiweke were removed as defendants earlier this year before the court case got underway.
Team AEG still have some more experts to present in court before wrapping up their case, though there will be no testimonies this week because of an illness in the family of one of the jurors. After that the Jackson team want some rebuttal time, before deliberations in the jury room can finally begin.
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