By Lester Rosen, ESR President & Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog

According to a post on The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog, the family of deceased singer Michael Jackson has filed a lawsuit against event production company AEG Live and others claiming they are responsible for the pop idol’s death because his contract with AEG for the planned “This Is It” tour created a legal duty to keep him healthy. 
As part of the lawsuit, the Jackson family accuses AEG of the “negligent hiring” and retention of Dr. Conrad Murray to care for Jackson in advance of the concerts instead of his usual doctor, the blog notes. Murray later allegedly administered the drug Propofol to Jackson without necessary resuscitation equipment or nursing support, and the singer died with the drug in his system.

With regard to the ‘Negligent Hiring’ cause of action, the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the family includes verbiage claiming that:

  • 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. The matter is still pending in court.

According to ‘The Safe Hiring Manual – How To Keep Criminals, Terrorists, and Imposters Out of Your Workplace’ by Lester Rosen, founder of San Francisco area background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR), every employer carries the obligation – the duty – to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others when hiring. The legal description of the duty of care – “due diligence” means the employer must consider if a potential new employee represents a risk to others in view of the nature of the job.

If an employer fails to exercise due diligence in the hiring process and a person is harmed by an employee, that employer can be sued for damages in a civil lawsuit for failure to perform a legal duty. The name of the legal action is called “negligent hiring,” which is the flip side of “due diligence.” If an employer hires someone who they either knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known was dangerous, unfit, or not qualified for the position, the employer can be sued for negligent hiring if injuries or death occur.

While most employers obviously will not hire applicants they know are dangerous or unfit for a job, it is the “should have known” part that gets employers into difficulties.

For more information about due diligence and negligent hiring, visit the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) website at