*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 in his court, reports the Associated Press.
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.
Walter had previously expressed doubts that the case belonged in federal court, but had allowed it to remain until the case’s first scheduling hearing Monday.
The lawsuit 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.
She has accused the promoter of failing to give Dr. Conrad Murray lifesaving equipment and properly oversee him while he cared for her son during preparations for the concerts. AEG has said the lawsuit is meritless.
“Given the two cases pending, it makes no sense to have them separated,” Oxman said. “It’s a matter of practicality.”
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 has 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, if you think that’s how long the criminal case is going to take,” the judge said.
Murray is due back in criminal court Jan. 4 for the start of a preliminary hearing where prosecutors will lay out some of the evidence against him. His attorneys have said he did not give the one-time King of Pop anything that should have killed him.