No background check was done on Michael Jackson’s doctor

Media sources reported that among several wrongful death lawsuits filed by the Jackson family, is a September 2010 action against event production company AEG Live and others alleging that they are responsible for the singer’s death because his “This Is It” tour contract with AEG created a legal duty to keep him healthy.

In its complaint, among other causes, the Jackson family accuses AEG of “negligent hiring” and retention of Dr. Conrad Murray to care for Jackson instead of his usual doctor. Earlier this year, prosecutors charged Murray with involuntary manslaughter, to which he pleaded not guilty. The doctor is accused of administering the drug Propofol to Jackson without the necessary resuscitation equipment or nursing support, and subsequently causing his death. The ‘Negligent Hiring’ cause of action in the complaint filed in Los Angeles County states:

“In undertaking to hire Murray, AEG performed absolutely no diligence in investigating or checking into Murray’s background, specialties, ability, or even whether he was insured, which it had a duty to do. In choosing to hire and employ a physician to treat Jackson, AEG undertook to act, and it needed to do so reasonably. AEG did not act reasonably and breached its duty.”

“During the course of Murray’s treatment, it became clear to AEG that Jackson was not doing well at all. AEG did nothing to terminate Murray and instead negligently retained him as an employee, and in so doing violated its duty of care. AEG insisted that Jackson continue treatment with Murray and receive no treatment from other physicians, a further breach of its duty of supervision.”

Along with negligent hiring, training and supervision, the complaint calls for unspecified damages for breach of contract, fraud, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. And in the most recent case filed November 30, 2010 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Joe Jackson is also claiming negligent hiring, training and supervision and negligence by the Murray-affiliated clinics and negligence against the pharmacy (and Murray.) A similar suit filed this past June did not include the pharmacy, and was dismissed.

Shortly after Michael Jackson’s death, ABC News reported that Murray was arrested on domestic violence charges in 1994 after an incident with his then-girlfriend. The doctor was tried and acquitted. When a company fails to conduct a background check, the employer can be held legally liable for a worker, independent contractor or volunteer who causes injury to a customer, co-worker or the general public. Whether the individual was acting within the capacity of the job for which he/she was hired does not matter. The legal theory is that even if an employer did not possess direct knowledge of the liability posed by an employee, the company is legally responsible because the employer should have known about the threat presented by the individual. Currently, fewer than 50% of the states uphold the doctrine of negligent hiring, and the criteria for determining negligent hiring differ from state to state.