Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Case Moved to State Court
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's father will now be handled by a state court after a federal judge said Monday he didn't have authority to hear the case and that the singer's father would be unlikely to collect tens of millions of dollars in damages if it remained in his court.
Joe Jackson's attorney agreed to dismiss part of his case against the doctor charged in the pop superstar's death, which prompted the judge to rule that the remaining issues had to be heard in state court.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter opened a hearing Monday by telling Joe Jackson's attorney that he didn't think Jackson's father could receive any money from one of the major causes of action, which alleged the singer's rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"I am firmly convinced that you can't seek damages on this (disabilities act) cause of action," Walter said.
The judge said that was the only federal issue in the case and he would not handle any other issues. "This is a creature of state law, this wrongful death claim," the judge said.
Joe Jackson's attorney, Brian Oxman, agreed to dismiss the ADA-related claim and said he would refile the case in Los Angeles Superior Court soon.
It will likely join a case filed by the Jackson family patriarch's wife against concert promoter AEG Live. Katherine Jackson sued the company, which planned and promoted a series of London concerts Michael Jackson was preparing for when he died unexpectedly in June 2009.
Dr. Conrad Murray has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and was named in Joe Jackson's lawsuit, but not in the case filed by Katherine Jackson.
Murray's attorney, Charles H. Peckham, told Walter that there would still be legal hurdles in state court for Joe Jackson's lawsuit. He said after the hearing that Murray will challenge whether the elder Jackson has the right to sue for wrongful death.
Authorities have accused Murray of giving Michael Jackson a lethal dose of sedatives, including the anesthetic propofol, in the bedroom of the singer's rented mansion. Propofol is meant to be used in hospital settings.
Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter and pleaded not guilty.
Walter also said Monday he didn't want to wait for Murray's trial to conclude, and he warned the attorneys that if the case remained in his courtroom, it would not be significantly delayed.
"I'm not going to wait around for two years, you think that's how long the criminal case is going to take," the judge said.
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