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Archive for Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Attorney: Jackson’s mother weighing wrongful death suit

August 18, 2009

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— An attorney for Michael Jackson’s mother says she is considering a wrongful death lawsuit because of the circumstances surrounding her son’s demise, and that the singer’s personal physician is a likely target.

The idea is still nascent, and Dr. Conrad Murray is the main name that’s been mentioned, attorney Burt Levitch said Monday, following a court hearing where a judge approved a merchandising deal that will benefit the King of Pop’s estate.

“The possibility of a wrongful death action has been floated,” Levitch said. “In that regard, no decision has been finalized … Dr. Murray’s name has been floated because he is under investigation.”

Authorities investigating Jackson’s June 25 death have been focusing on Murray, who they believe administered a powerful anesthetic to the pop singer the day he died. Levitch wouldn’t say whether concert promoter AEG might also be a defendant.

“It’s fairly obvious from press accounts that AEG had a very active role in Michael’s life for the last six months,” Levitch said. “They paid for his home and for Dr. Conrad Murray.”

“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any potential litigation,” said AEG spokesman Michael Roth.

Miranda Sevcik, a publicist for Murray attorney Edward Chernoff, said she had seen the press conference with Levitch, but that doesn’t mean a lawsuit “is imminent.”

“Whether or not the Jackson family decides to proceed with a civil suit is up to them,” she said in an e-mail.

Earlier in the day, a judge signed off on a deal that would soon bring official Michael Jackson merchandise to store shelves, but the fate of a proposed tour of the King of Pop’s memorabilia remained in limbo after the singer’s mother expressed renewed concerns.

Attorneys for Katherine Jackson withdrew their objections to an agreement with merchandiser Bravado to bring everything from Jackson trading cards, apparel and cell phone themes to consumers.

But her objections remain a roadblock to a deal that would put some of her son’s prized items on display later this year. That tour was intended to coincide with the release of a major movie featuring his final rehearsals for a series of London shows.

Levitch said Mrs. Jackson’s primary objection is that it was not open to competitive bidding by companies other than AEG. He also said he believed the deal that was negotiated, which would provide a 50-50 split between AEG and the estate, was insufficient.

He also said that Mrs. Jackson has recently reasserted her desire to either be named a co-executor or have a member of the family, designated by her, as an executor. Jackson’s will named longtime attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain as the sole executors of his estate, with Katherine Jackson, the singer’s children and unnamed charities as beneficiaries.

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