Verdict Instructions For The Jury In The Jacksons Vs. AEG Trial
The honorable Judge Yvette Palazuelos presiding.
Lawyers Present for Mrs. Katherine Prince Paris and Blanket Jackson
Kevin Boyle and Brian Panish
Lawyer Present for AEG Live Randy Phillips & Paul Gongaware
Jessica Stebbins Marvin Putnam
Hearing took place at the Los Angeles Civil court on April 15th 2013
Today’s discussion is regarding what will be factors a instructions to the jury for handing down their verdict at the end of the Jackson vs. AEG trial.
Jackson attorneys at the start of the juror questionnaire hearing wanted to be clear that they have never demanded that the jury questionnaires be released as the court information officer claims was requested 3 times. AEG asked the court deny this action. The Jacksons respect the private lives of the jurors and are sensitive to the privacy of the jurors’ lifestyle families and identity and want to reiterate that they have never made such a request and that they keep getting claims made against that are not true by the defendants.
The judge denied the request because she wanted to hear from the Jackson attorneys first to gauge their reasoning on the request that she thought was factual at the time.
AEG sheepishly apologizes to the court about the confusion and say that they are still considering whether they want to pursue the request of having the jury questionnaires undisclosed. However, judge didn’t read AEGs request she simply denied it straight away because she wanted to hear the Jackson side first.
Topic One: Adding Murray to the jury verdict form in regards to his percentage of fault along with AEG in Michael’s death.
Judge Palazuelos has been going over the Jackson and AEG verdict questionnaires submitted. Each side has a list of questions based on their arguments that they want accepted by the court to be included in the jury’s verdict instructions. On the verdict questionnaire are questions asked pertaining to the arguments and evidence presented by both sides during trial. The line questions on the verdict form is to help the jury reach a decision within the confines of the law without having in most cases prior legal knowledge. Both the plaintiffs and defendants must when submitting their line questions to be included on the verdict questionnaire; adhere to any prior writs and/or mandates. Sometimes attorneys add in questions or rephrase evidence that was excluded before trial. Because the question were excluded before trial it doesn’t mean they can’t be presented as arguments during trial it simply means that they cannot give to the jury for consideration when considering the verdict. However this could change during the course of the trial if it’s been deemed by the court that sufficient enough evidence has been presented during arguments the judge can decide to have previously excluded calms/charges included in the jury instruction.
AEG wants to ask the jury thru verdict questionnaire, what percentage of fault does AEG and Michael have in Michael’s death. *rolls eyes* In essence they want the jury to determine whether Michael was culpable in his own death, which would confuse the jury as this is a wrongful death liability case. How can a jury adequately determine fault and damages in such a case when the thought of whether or not Michael played a role in his own death? Michael is not on trial and did not kill himself. It appears that AEG wants to bring the same case that is laid against them against Michael on the slide; making Michael their codefendant. Based on the judge’s decision to deny AEG’s request for summary judgment (decision without trial or jury) the court doesn’t feel that this line of questioning has been properly allocated and feels Michael’s name should not be included in this question. If there were any thought in her mind after reading the petitions briefs and evidence presented by both the Jacksons and AEG, that Michael was in any way responsible for his own death….the judge would not have granted this trial to the Jacksons citing that they have triable cause, which speaks volumes.
The Jacksons want Murray’s name added to the percentage of fault line on the verdict questionnaire because there is extensive evidence of joint liability between Murray and AEG. While Murray’s actions was the direct result of Michael’s death, attorneys want the court and jury to keep in mind that it was AEG’s negligent hiring and supervision of Conrad Murray, that started the whole tragedy in motion.
By adding Murray, the judge sees this as in a sense, Jackson attorneys are getting back the “respondeat superior liability” that wasn’t granted during summary. But asserts that it can be argued to the jury that AEG is 100% liable and that Murray is 100% liable and that they are free to argue that if AEG had not hired Murray that Michael would be alive today.
AEG says that allowing Murray should be allowed as they too see this as mirroring the vicarious liability that was not granted. AEG doesn’t want Conrad Murray on this line of questioning because their line of defense is that Michael moved Murray out to California hired him and then asked for propofol. They desperately want to leave Murray out because his guilt alone, tied to them as there employee gives AEG shared guilt and fault) but whether AEG is liable for hiring Murray and when they feel that Murray had a dual employ by both Michael and AEG. With this stance AEG has for the umpteenth time admitting hiring Murray they just want Michael to share the blame. AEG thru their verdict questionnaire feels the most important is whether the jury feels that AEG is at fault by hiring and supervising Murray. Now they say that the Jacksons putting Murray on the verdict form is a defense oriented move whereas in cases such as this it is normally the defense that can put Murray on the form in a quest to reduce their own liability. AEG feels that with Murray on the form that jurors will assign liability Murray and won’t give any to Michael and in an attempt to reduce their likability they have added Gongaware and Philips to that line of questioning.
AEG has not admitted as of yet that Murray did anything wrong that in itself, is acknowledge of guilt on AEGs part as Murray in most regards is seen as AEGs employee. Jackson attorneys’ question to the court makes logical sense, “how can we talk about Murray’s responsibility whom he worked for and what he’s done and ultimately been convicted for which is the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson and yet AEG are asking the court that Conrad Murray not be included on the “percentage of fault in Michael’s death”, question to the jury.
AEG’s stance is that Michael should be included on the form, their feelings are that if the jury thinks at some point that Michael shares some fault is his own death. With him not on the line of questioning jurors may unduly assign blame to Murray and AEG solely because jurors will think giving percentage of fault to Murray is giving it to Michael if they believed that Michael himself is partly responsible for hiring the doctor thinking that the Murray option is synonymous with Michael. AEG consistently presents weak arguments, no one would associate Murray with Michael and Murray would get assigned a percentage of blame in connection with Michael murder as he gave the propofol and is current serving time after being convicted. Not because jurors who believe that Michael was involved in his own death (if there any) and because they don’t see his name on a questionnaire they will assign their thoughts to Murray. Murray has already been determined responsible in a court of law this is why he will be assigned percentage of fault in Michael death.
Topic Two: Lump sum monetary award vs. individual monetary awards for Mrs. Jackson Prince Paris and Blanket
AEG has issue with the Jacksons monetary damages being awarded individually. They are asking the court to have the Jacksons take a lump sum because there will be conflicts of interest as Mrs. Jackson and Michael’s kids use the same lawyer. *blank look come across my face* AEG wants us to believe that they care about Michael’s children and that are looking out for their best interest. They say that it would be unfair to ask a jury award individually as it would put on trial the relation that each child had with Michael based on monies awarded. Then they change gears and say if the Jackson waive the lump sum verdict they won’t object but want a guardian ad litem to represent their share of the award and how it will be distributed. Isn’t this in essence objecting the Jacksons waiver of a lump sum by trying to dictate in the way the waiver would be carried out?
AEG is extremely worried about their bottom line, paying Michael’s mother and kids individually could totally break AEG Live, dependent on how the jury receives this case they can award each child alone several billion along with Michael’s Mom being awarded the same. This will cause an irreversible financial disaster for AEG, which is certainly due them, as the loss of Michael and the robbing of his estate and legacy is nothing short of a cataclysm.
Jackson attorneys say that they will put in a waiver to forgo the lump sum verdict and that they are requesting individual awards whatever they may be. They have full confidence in the jury and that just as juries do every day in wrongful death suits, this jury will have their instructions and a full understanding of the case when they have been done presenting. Jackson attorneys are not scared and are ready deal with any and everything that AEG may throw their way. They also say that the only conflicts of interest that would potential arise is if more than one firm become involved and they began bickering and taking money for their own side of interest. The Jackson attorneys aim to put on a full case which represents Michael’s surviving family, it’s foolish to think that they would do anything less at various times during trial because they want to tip the scales in favor of this one client over their client as AEG attorneys insinuated.
AEG does not want Mrs. Jackson to be awarded just as the estate wants to keep her trust empty. When the children when individually and together with their grandmother as a family AEG feels that they will have control over this money and its disbursements as they have their buddy Branca to assist because he controls the Jackson finances right now.
Topic Three: Separate defendant lines for Gongaware, Phillips, AEG Live & AEG Live Productions vs. having the sole word Defendants on the verdict questionnaire
Jackson attorneys are concerned about what AEGs intents are in regards to separating Paul Gongaware and Randy Phillips on a separate defendant line. It appears they are trying to separate themselves from their agents making them fall guys so to speak. This could confuse the jury if the defendants are separated with this very old trick that AEG is trying to pull. The jury can decide it was only Phillips or just Gongaware or AEG Live and not its CEO and/or President at all… And then there is AEG Live Productions, which AEG execs during depositions admitted that they had no awareness of. AEG is attempting to slither away from fault. Jackson attorneys say NO! Randy Phillips Paul Gongaware AEG Live and AEG Live Production are all one unit, they are all one entity with Gongaware and Phillips being employees of which make AEG liable for them; just as they are for Conrad Murray. AEG Live productions was newly created for the task of handling This Is IT. AEG Live, AEG Live Productions, Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware… are all using the same firm in their defense and there is no way you can separate them.
When the jury starts to deliberate it could become very tangled as if they deem Gongaware or Phillips has liability and they do it becomes a series of technicalities of whom they were do what for AEG Live or AEG Live Productions or on their own accord. This is nonsense they will and should remain collusive defendants where the word defendants is interchangeably used for them all.
AEG says that by doing this they are not saying that they are not liable for its employees (they tell on themselves again) but they are saying that its employees are not responsible for its employer and therefore think it unconstitutional to sue give individual blame to Gongaware and Phillips which is a contradiction as they want them separated on the defendants line. When the Jacksons win if jury were to leave sole responsibility on the CEO and/or the President of AEG Live, Anschutz entertainment group would be getting away with murder. The Jackson attorneys understand the ramifications of AEGs attempts and they are citing them out.
The Jacksons are well within their rights to sue Gongaware and Randy Phillips individually and AEG Live/AEG Live Productions as their employers. These two men are to level executives and are very much responsible. Just as you hospital administrator cares for you vicariously thru its doctors that care for you does this go for Murray Phillips and Gongaware. This is vicarious liability, which Jackson attorneys will prove.
Judge will review and make her ruling.
Topic Four: Should there be jury instruction to answer the question on whether not there was a contract between Murray and AEG
AEG wants there to be a limit on the amount of questions for the verdict questionnaire and wants there to be series questioning on whether jury feels there was a contract. Judge says she doesn’t really think whether there was a contract or not, is of issue, whether they hired him… be it verbal or in anticipation of a contract and Murray’s working for AEG in lieu of a contraction, should be the issue. Jackson say this is what jury instructions is for and in those instruction there will be the an understanding of how to facilitate the law instead of having the jury go thru answering multiple questions about contracts and AEG several contract scenarios they will try to convince us all of. AEG was wants to address various contract theories and yet the Judge says that she doesn’t see the need to go into contracts or oral contracts in the jury instructions as both sides will present their argument to such during trial. These arguments will give the jury an idea of whether based on instructions AEG is liable or not.
Jackson attorneys say that they will show that there was negligent hiring, negligent retaining and negligent supervision and request that all three claims go forth with negligence before them. AEG objects to negligent supervision as they say how and why should they, be held for the supervision of someone they didn’t hire. AEG is saying still that Murray was an independent contractor and that independent contract do not get supervised. This is more nonsense, independent supervisors are supervised by those that seek and solicit their work. Independent contractor is a tax loopholes, said freelancer is commissioned for and on the hook their own taxes medical insurance etc. AEG has far surpassed this claim by paying for Murray’s salary, by stating he needs to be reminded that it is AEG that pays him not Michael Jackson. By promising Lifesaving equipment that needed to be returned to AEG once the tours were over (the latter about the equipment revealed by T Mez) AEG provided insurance for the doctor in the Lloyds of London policy for This Is It and if Murray wanted to cover his family he would need to pay into the policy himself, again the 1099 loop whole…I’ve been a 1099 worker off and on for years. You work for said company entity etc. provide them with the services they seek, you do what they hired you to. Companies who hire these contractors do not have to provide full benefits or unemployment insurance or pay a portion of your taxes. In law you are retained an artist gets a contract.
Judge says that, California laws states that a person can be responsible for negligently hiring supervising and retaining a third party which is the indie contractor.. This is your vicarious liability coming back in. A hospital administrator cares for its patients vicariously thru its doctors this is why if something goes wrong you can sue the hospital for its negligent hiring and supervisor of the doctor and the doctor individually for its direct action. When you take someone under your umbrella of services in this case the production of a tour solely to care for the Star you’ve hired to headline your production (which you are responsible for as well) AEG is responsible for Michael’s death.
Jackson attorneys understand that the “respondeat superior liability” was taken away and for the sake of the verdict form ONLY! They are not asking it to be a part of jury instruction. They attorneys respect the judge’s decision at summary however… they note that the judge can’t fully decide such a thing without full case being put and that after they argue such they are sure that the jury will see to that Murray was an employee. The judge acknowledged that at a later date that if the after the Jackson attorneys presentation there is enough evidence to reinstate the initial request of respondeat superior liability at shall be and handed to the jury.
AEG says that Jackson attorneys are asking for the jury to ignore the summary decision to exclude respondeat superior liability = vicarious liability. The decision to exclude was merely because at the time of summary such a charge the court felt shouldn’t go to jury for decision yet the grounds for the charge can be made to the jury. If not the Jacksons wouldn’t have triable cause.
Judge states that if the evidence shows, then the jury should see.
AEG says that negligent supervision should not go to the jury and that maybe later it will be found that it should go after trial developments but that it shouldn’t be now. Like they foresee their losing fate.
Judge states that she will keep an open mind to the negligent supervision.
Topic Five: Whether or not Mrs. Jackson is due damages
Straight away Jackson Attorneys wanted to know if AEG was serious in their claim that Michael’s MOTHER was responsible for her son’s death. Judge was interested to, AEG quickly recanted, they knew they were being foolish and their tantrum was showing.
AEG however further revealed themselves by saying that they were against Mrs. Jackson’s receiving of damages. They say that she doesn’t have a leg to stand on as those who were supported solely by Michael like his children are the only ones that have triable cause. They are now begging the courts to treat her like Joe when he rightfully laid claim against the estate.
AEG attorney’s further get this say that there is evidence that Mrs. Jackson has her own income and that her kids have given her as much as $10,000 a month. Oh so now the Jackson kids are not leeches of Michael and they do have their own money and they too support their Mother…Oh I see.
Jackson attorneys once again puts AEG in their place pointing out how baseless AEG arguments were. The entire world know that Michael Loved and supported his Mother. This is a Mother’s child and the loss of her son unnecessarily is due cause for monetary damages.
Judges dismisses this claim as if this was the issue it shouldn’t have been stated from the beginning she scolds AEG. AEG wants Mrs. Jackson to get nothing just like their partner John Branca who still has her trust sit empty.