Ever since Michael Jackson’s death, we have been bombarded with news reports concerning the cause of his death, and the possible link to Mr. Jackson’s personal cardiologist, Dr. Conrad Murray. Dr. Murray was retained by Michael Jackson, for a fee of $150,000 per month, to serve as his personal doctor and “keep him healthy” during his scheduled London concert tour. Not only is Dr. Murry likely the subject of a civil medical malpractice investigation, but he is also the subject of a criminal manslaughter investigation.
Law enforcement authorities are conducting an investigation into Michael Jackson’s death, and suspect that Dr. Murray prescribed Mr. Jackson a fatal dose of propofol, a powerful anesthetic and fast-acting hypnotic agent, to help him sleep. No doubt, Michael Jackson’s estate has already retained a top personal injury and wrongful death lawyer to assist with a potential civil action against Dr. Murray. The estate’s lawyers will pay close attention to the ongoing criminal investigation for overlapping evidence to support the civil action.
Recent reports suggest that Dr. Murray had a financial motive for prescribing medication requested by Michael Jackson, even absent a medical necessity. Indeed, the associated press reported that Dr. Murry was at least $780,000 in debt at the time he was retained to act as Michael Jackson’s personal doctor. This debt related to judgments against him and his medical practice (involving unpaid medical equipment, as opposed to medical malpractice judgments), delinquent mortgage payments, student loans, child support and credit cards.
Criminal prosecutors (and the estate’s personal injury lawyers) now have a motive for Dr. Murray to give Mr. Jackson the drugs he wanted, even if it was not in his best interest, and even if doing so violated that standard of care in the medical community. We will not comment on whether this evidence is sufficient to warrant a criminal manslaughter charge, but this evidence, together with opinions regarding deviations from the standard of care and causation to Mr. Jackson’s death, is powerful in the civil medical malpractice/wrongful death context.
The fact that Dr. Murray is several hundred thousand dollars in debt may factor into whether Michael Jackson’s estate may recover a civil judgment against Dr. Murray for wrongful death. Still, Dr. Murray and his medical practice must have insurance coverage (potentially several million dollars worth) for medical negligence, and therefore the estate may still receive substantial compensation if they are able to prevail in a civil action.