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Michael Jackson's Death and Malpractice Issues

Michael Jackson's death could potentially raise medical malpractice and criminal liability issues, writes Eric Turkewitz at the New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog. With speculation that prescription medications may have contributed to Jackson's death, Turkewitz explores some of the issues implicated.

First among the questions that will likely be explored is whether the medications were all provided by a single doctor. If so, Turkewitz predicts that the doctor could be exposed to criminal prosecution (though unlikely), revocation of his medical license or a civil suit. If more than one doctor was involved, a lawsuit would need to examine whether the doctors knew about each other and the medications they were prescribing. Other potential lawsuit targets include the pharmacists who prescribed the drugs, though they may have immunity for following doctors' orders.

On the damages end, there are also questions about how much Jackson's estate could recover. Turkewitz notes that "Jackson was allegedly in debt to the tune of over $300 million," and that "when you are that steeply in hock, a malpractice suit may be too insignificant to matter (assuming a limited insurance policy)."

Anyway, here are Turkewitz's predictions:

A. Criminal liability is the big concern if there was one doctor prescribing a bucket load of drugs to Jackson without having the nerve to cut off the famous patient. While prosecutors don't generally bring these kinds of actions, they also don't usually deal with such a high profile figure. That could alter the decision-making process of prosecutors. That doctor would also have separate licensing concerns.

B. Civil liability in a medical malpractice suit on behalf of the estate is not likely to garner much of a return relative to the debt. It only comes if authorities find an easy case against someone.

C. The kids will pursue a wrongful death case (via their guardian, whoever it may be) only if: Jackson failed to provide for them; there is little left in the estate after the creditors tear it to pieces; and the case is an easy one.

What do you think lawyers have in store for the King of Pop? Is it a 21st century case of "Après moi, le déluge?" Based on the track record of other star musicians who died an untimely death and the endless legal battles that follow, it's likely litigants won't stop 'til they get enough.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 26, 2009 at 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)


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