Can Dying Be Good For Your Career?
posted by Gerard Magliocca
Now that the election is over, I can finally blog about Michael Jackson. A civil suit was filed by Jackson’s estate against Conrad Murray, who was convicted of criminal wrongdoing in Jackson’s death. Murray’s most intriguing defense is that Jackson’s death was actually beneficial to the estate and thus there was no overall harm to his family.
It can be true that a celebrity will earn more dead than alive. That possibility seems to rest largely on how the person died (was it notorious?) and whether they died young. Going one step further and saying that this marginal gain outweighs the loss of consortium that family members suffer is something that, as far as I know, no court or jury has taken. In Jackson’s case, the calculation is complicated by the fact that he was (apparently) a spendthrift, and thus his net income was also boosted once he died because he was no longer spending the money. So what do you think? Can this defense succeed?