California Court Dismisses Latest Wrongful Death Action Filed by Michael Jackson's Family

2月 21, 2012



Julie Fei
O’Melveny & Myers LLP                       
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Piper Hall
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
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LOS ANGELES, CA ─ FEBRUARY 21, 2012 ─ In the latest legal blow to the Jackson family’s attempts to obtain money from concert promoter AEG Live following the death of Michael Jackson, a Los Angeles Superior Court today dismissed outright the wrongful death case brought by the singer’s father, Joseph Jackson, against AEG Live.

The decision leaves Michael Jackson’s longtime physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, and Applied Pharmacy Services in Las Vegas as the remaining defendants in Joseph Jackson’s wrongful death lawsuit. Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in November 2011 when a jury found he had acted with criminal negligence and those actions were a substantial factor in Michael Jackson’s death. Michael Jackson died of a drug overdose on June 25, 2009, just weeks before he was to start his This Is It concert series promoted by AEG Live.

“The Court’s decision today is just the latest judicial rejection of the Jackson family’s ongoing attempts to wrest yet more monies out of their son’s legacy,” said Marvin Putnam of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, which represents AEG Live in the various lawsuits brought by Jackson family members. “The Court dismissed half of Katherine Jackson’s baseless claims last year, and today dismissed all of Joe Jackson’s claims. This brings us one step closer to resolving these issues and meritless lawsuits once and for all.”

This is the latest legal victory for AEG Live against the Jackson family, which has made numerous unsubstantiated allegations against AEG Live and its executives for their purported involvement in Michael Jackson’s death. Last year, Katherine Jackson, wife of Joseph Jackson, also had her separate claims for fraud, constructive fraud, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy dismissed by the Honorable Yvette Palazuelos.

Joseph Jackson’s claims were in many respects nearly identical to his wife’s, according to Putnam’s explanation of the case’s legal background. However, in bringing them in a separate lawsuit, Jackson failed to comply with California’s long-established “one-action” rule, which requires all heirs to join together in a single wrongful death suit, and prohibits those who don’t join from bringing their claims later. Despite the clarity of the one-action rule, Jackson and his attorney Maureen Jaroscak demanded that Jackson be granted the unprecedented right to maintain his separate wrongful death action. Jackson claimed that he would be prejudiced if he was not allowed to maintain his suit, even though he had full knowledge of his wife’s action at the time he filed his own.

Arguing for AEG Live, Putnam explained that Joseph Jackson had his chance to join his wife’s suit but the Jacksons instead knowingly chose to pursue separate, distinct lawsuits rather than proceeding together in a unified action, in clear contravention of California law. Judge Palazuelos agreed with Putnam and dismissed Joseph Jackson’s suit without leave to replead. In her nine-page ruling, Judge Palazuelos explained that Jackson’s arguments were not supported by authority, and that allowing his suit to proceed would contradict the entire purpose and policy of the one-action rule. In addition, the Judge noted that Joseph Jackson retains the right to sue his wife Katherine Jackson for any damages that may result from her refusal to join him in her lawsuit if he in fact is a rightful heir.

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