Verdict Reached in Schaffel Suit / Jackson counter-suit

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We’re being told that a verdict has been reached in the trial. But we don’t know what the verdict is yet. Keep your eye on this space or over at the MJEOL forums in this thread:

 Jackson lawsuit jury awards money to ex-associate and pop star

LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent

July 14, 2006 4:58 PM

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) – In a split decision, a civil court jury Friday awarded a former Michael Jackson adviser $900,000 – far less than he claimed in the money dispute – and awarded the pop star $200,000 in his cross-complaint against F. Marc Schaffel.

”Obviously, I’m very happy,” Schaffel said outside court. ”We got less than I asked for but considering all the factors on what we were able to present, I’m pleased.”

Schaffel sued for $3.8 million, but his claims were later reduced to $1.6 million, and his attorney ultimately asked for $1.4 million in commissions, unpaid loans and expenses before deliberations began Thursday.

Jackson’s attorney had said Schaffel owed the pop star $660,000 from their association on projects before the pop star fired the associate in November 2001 after learning of his past as a producer of gay pornography.

The trial delved into claims involving work Schaffel did to produce two videos aired on Fox that were intended to rehabilitate Jackson’s image in the aftermath of a damaging documentary, and claims involving ”What More Can I Give,” an ill-fated Jackson song intended to raise funds for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Jurors said outside court that they came to the figure of $900,000 by accepting Schaffel’s claims that he was owed commissions from the two videos and for some other expenses.

They said that after much arguing they accepted Schaffel’s claim that he spent $300,000 of his own money on a secret mission to South America for Jackson. Schaffel claimed he gave the money to a ”Mr. X.”

”We fought a lot over that,” said juror Irma Beard, a retired law office worker.

She and jury foreman Roy Shimogaki said they were troubled by the claim.

”We believed something happened,” Shimogaki said.

Beard added, ”We believed it was something unpleasant and we didn’t want to know about it.”

<div class=important>[MJEOL NOTE: This is fairly disturbing. Jackson’s attorneys presented evidence from Schaffel’s bank account records that this $300,000 payment simply didn’t exist. 

There could be some issues here where jurors wanted to believe Jackson was a guilty of molestation and wanted to enter a judgment against him based on the unsubstantiated claim from Schaffel.]</div>

Both, however, said they were not influenced by explosive claims by both sides about each party’s lifestyle.

Jackson’s lawyer had focused on Schaffel’s past in gay adult movies, and Schaffel had blurted out on the witness stand that Jackson once wanted him to go to Brazil to find boys for him to adopt. He later modified that statement to ”children” to expand Jackson’s family.

Beard said none of that came up in deliberations, and the jury just tried to focus on financial figures.

”Schaffel’s life is his life and Michael’s life is his life,” she said.

Both laughed when asked if they considered Schaffel a credible witness.

”We wouldn’t go that far,” Shimogaki said.

”The plaintiff was not the most upstanding character and neither was the defendant,” Beard said.

The jury had to answer multiple questions. All the verdicts for Schaffel were unanimous while three for Jackson were not unanimous. But only nine of the 12 jurors needed to agree.

Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Conner plans to hold a separate specific accounting phase of the trial to look at the claims. The result of that could lead to adjustment of the awards.

[b]Two jurors who refused to give their names said in interviews that they felt Jackson was a victim of exploitation by Schaffel and that he should have been awarded more money.
Several jurors asked after the verdict to see a video of ”What More Can I Give,” which wasn’t played during the trial. Schaffel’s attorney obliged, showing a multi-artist production with Jackson leading the singing and stars such as Mariah Carey, Usher and Beyonce taking turns singing.

The song has a continuing refrain in which Jackson sings, ”Just call my name. I am your friend. To love and to teach, to hold and to reach you. What more can I give?”

”It’s so great,” said juror Cathleen Yancey, 20. ”I think it should be out. There’s a lot that would have to happen for it to be released. But I think it should be out.”

L. Londell McMillan, a New York lawyer recently hired by Jackson to restructure his business affairs, said the recording will be released.

Jackson attorney Thomas Mundell said it was a tragedy a ”beautiful record that was done for benevolent purposes was tied up in litigation for five years.”

[b]Yancey, a student at Brigham Young University, said she wanted to award Jackson more than the $200,000 but that one of the jurors was adamant ”and was the most opinionated.”[/b]

She had said during jury selection that she objected to pornography and believed Jackson might be a child molester. But after the verdict she said she did not consider that during deliberations.

The jurors agreed one thing: They were glad Jackson did not appear in court as a witness.

”If he was here, it would have been a frenzy,” Yancey said.

Panelists said they believed his videotaped deposition was sufficient.

AP-WS-07-14-06 1952EDT


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