Judge Dismisses Jackson Memorial Lawsuit - NBC Southern California

Judge Dismisses Jackson Memorial Lawsuit

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    Judge Dismisses Jackson Memorial Lawsuit
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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 07: Mounted Los Angeles police officers ride outside the Michael Jackson public memorial service held at Staples Center on July 7, 2009 in Los Angeles.

    A judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Lincoln Heights man who wanted Michael Jackson's estate to reimburse taxpayers for the $3.2 million cost of his memorial service at Staples Center.

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy's decision came two days before the second anniversary of the singer's death. The judge said she was not persuaded that the law supports Jose Freddie Vallejos' case, filed last June 29, against Jackson's estate and its executors, John Branca and John McClain

    The suit also named AEG Live, which set up the sold-out series of London performances for which the singer was rehearsing in Los Angeles at the time of his death.

    "Whether it's a Laker championship or the funeral of a celebrity, it is the city's call, not the court's call, how many officers to deploy,'' Murphy said.

    Attorney Jessica Stebbins, on behalf of AEG Live, said she was happy with the ruling.
    Lawyer Jeremiah Reynolds, for the estate, echoed her remarks.

    Vallejos' lawyer, Jeff Grotke, said he still contends the expense incurred to taxpayers for the LAPD to use nearly 4,000 officers for a private event was an illegal gift of public funds.

    In court papers filed in opposition to the dismissal, Grotke said the Jackson estate was more than capable of paying for the memorial service.

    "It should be utterly astounding to the everyday taxpayer that the court ... has refused to find that a billion-dollar business like the Jackson estate cannot at least find the money to repay the city for the event ...,'' Grotke wrote.

    Grotke also drew an analogy to the city of Bell administrative salary scandal and its embattled former city manager, Robert Rizzo.

    "How many fat paychecks did the morbidly obese Robert Rizzo have to receive before it added up to the amount of money stolen in one afternoon by the defendants here,?'' Grotke asked. "The truth is that (AEG Live and the Jackson estate) are shameless players on the public scene who have used their influence to gain favor and raid the public trough.''

    Grotke also criticized the memorial.

    "This was a nauseating, quasi-worshipful sanitization of the noseless Jackson, a grand, cynical chance to forget his repeated sins and creepy lifestyle,'' Grotke's court papers stated. "The fact was it was a lifelong worship and adoration that had doubtless turned him into such a vain lunatic.''

    Grotke also made another reference to the singer's change in appearance after cosmetic surgery.

    "Fresh-faced and beautiful from the start, as God made him, he nevertheless employed an army of plastic surgeons who transformed him into a monster,'' Grotke wrote.