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Two AEG execs removed from Michael Jackson case

Michael Jackson, circa 1988. (24494)
Michael Jackson, circa 1988.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Two top AEG Live executives were dismissed today from the wrongful death and negligence lawsuit brought against the concert promoter by Michael Jackson’s family, but the company remains a defendant.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos ruled that attorneys for Katherine Jackson, who filed the suit on behalf of herself and her late son’s three children, did not prove claims that AEG Live chief executive Randy Phillips and executive Paul Gongaware could be held responsible for the singer’s death.

In her decision, Palazuelos streamlined the case for jurors, leaving the primary decision whether AEG Live hired Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer and failed to supervise him properly.

The case, now in its fifth month, is expected to go to the jury before the end of this month.

AEG Live denies wrongdoing and claims Michael Jackson alone hired Murray, intending to ensure a steady supply of the drug he used for sleep and that eventually caused his overdose death on June 25, 2009, at the Holmby Hills mansion he was renting while rehearsing for 50 sold-out concert dates in London.

Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in jail for giving the 50-year-old singer the lethal intravenous dose of the anesthetic propofol.

Jackson family attorneys attacked Phillips and Gongaware, arguing they ignored blatant warning signals about the entertainer’s health. Both executives testified for several days.

The late singer’s mother and his three children allege in the lawsuit filed in September 2010 that AEG Live hired Murray as Jackson’s physician for his planned “This Is It” concert series in London without any background research on the doctor.

AEG Live maintains it was Jackson who hired Murray in 2006 as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during the concerts.