After conviction, legal woes mount for Jackson doc

By Anthony Mccartney

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 11 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

In this frame grab from video, deputies place handcuffs on Dr. Conrad Murray after his conviction on involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of pop star Michael Jackson, in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, Nov. 7, 2011. Murray was Michael Jackson's physician when the pop star died in 2009.

CNN, Pool, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

LOS ANGELES — Jail time is not the only problem looming for the doctor convicted in Michael Jackson's death. Lawsuits, medical licensing issues and possible payments to Jackson's family await.

Some of the matters have been on hold since Dr. Conrad Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter in February 2010, and the cardiologist's attorneys have so far fended off attempts to end his ability to practice medicine.

Now, with the jury's guilty verdict announced Monday, the efforts to hold Murray accountable in civil courts will speed up and the loss of his medical privileges are all but guaranteed.

The Houston-based physician is being sued by Jackson's father, embroiled in a fight with the provider of his medical malpractice insurance and may be ordered to pay restitution to Jackson's family when he is sentenced for involuntary manslaughter on Nov. 29.

But Murray won't go quietly. His civil attorney said that if the lawsuits proceed, they will delve into territory unexplored during the doctor's six-week criminal trial, including possible culpability by other doctors. Murray's team will also look into options for Murray to relinquish his medical license in Texas — with an eye on trying to return to medicine within a year.

Brian Oxman, who represents father Joe Jackson in a wrongful death lawsuit against Murray, said his civil case "will absolutely focus on what happened before the last few hours of Michael's life."

Oxman is also working with Murray's attorney, Charles Peckham, to possibly expand the case to include other physicians who treated Jackson, namely dermatologist Arnold Klein.

"We are looking at ways to expand the scope and view of this lawsuit to all those who are actually responsible for the death of Michael Jackson," Peckham said Thursday.

Murray's criminal attorneys frequently mentioned Klein to jurors and presented evidence about Demerol treatments that Klein gave Jackson in the months before the singer's June 2009 death, but a judge blocked the dermatologist from testifying.

Peckham said some of Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor's rulings — which were intended to keep the focus on Murray's care of Jackson — "severely restrained testimony that would have pointed to Dr. Murray's innocence."

"There is substantial proof that supports the belief that the insomnia Michael Jackson was experiencing was a result of the overmedication of Michael Jackson with Demerol," Peckham said.

No Demerol was found in Jackson's system when he died, but a defense expert told jurors in the criminal case that some of the symptoms of withdrawal from the drug are similar to those caused by use of the anesthetic propofol, which is what killed Jackson. Murray said he was giving the pop superstar propofol treatments so that he could sleep as he prepared for a planned series of comeback concerts.

Klein's attorney, Garo Ghazerian, did not return a phone message seeking comment Thursday.

Murray's attorneys are planning an appeal of his criminal conviction and he remains jailed without bail until his sentencing. At that hearing, prosecutors could seek restitution for Jackson's family, although his mother and children have received millions in support from the singer's estate since his passing.

In 2009, a judge ordered record producer Phil Spector to pay $26,000 in restitution fees after he was convicted of second-degree murder for shooting cocktail waitress Lana Clarkson. Nearly $10,000 was allocated for a state victims' restitution fund, while the rest was set aside for Clarkson's funeral expenses.

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