Michael Jackson might have to hold back next time he starts jonesing for another multimillion-dollar Las Vegas shopping spree. A Santa Monica, California, jury on Thursday awarded $5.3 million to a concert promoter who booked Jackson for a pair of concerts that never happened.
German promoter Marcel Avram filed a $21 million suit in June 2000 because Jackson allegedly backed out of millennium shows in Sydney, Australia, and Honolulu, Hawaii. He also sued Jackson for an additional $13 million for June 1999 charity shows he promoted in Korea and Germany that Jackson performed at, but which lost money. Avram lost that case.
Although Avram originally sought $21 million in the millennium case, the judge lopped off $10 million the promoter wanted for fraud and punitive damages, according to Zia Modabber, Jackson's attorney. During the trial, the judge barred the jury from considering an additional $5 million to $6 million for production expenses. The $5.3 million the jury awarded covers lost profits. Avram will appeal the decision, his spokesman said.
During the trial, the defense argued that Avram asked one of Jackson's assistants if he could postpone the millennium shows for a year because the public wasn't as excited about the concerts as had been hoped. Avram insisted Michael unexpectedly canceled.
Despite the loss, Jackson's attorney considered the verdict a victory. "We're really happy with the results," Modabber said. "The number [Avram was awarded] is far less than he had been demanding. As a trial lawyer you always want the verdict to be zero. But put in perspective of what was sought and what was at issue, this was a very good result."
Even so, Modabber said he hasn't decided if he will appeal.
The case marked only the second time in a decade that Jackson has appeared in court to testify. During the four-month trial, the singer received bountiful press for giggling and shouting "Eeeow!" during questioning and making antlers and devil horns on the stand (see "Michael Jackson Tells Attorney To 'Go To Hell' "). He also appeared on crutches one day, claiming he'd been bitten by a poisonous spider (see "Allegedly Attacked By Spider, Michael Jackson Skips Court Date").