Orleans - Five Michael Jackson fans won symbolic damages of one euro each Tuesday as a French court agreed they had suffered “emotional damage” from the pop star's death.
Played out in a court in the city of Orleans, the unusual case saw 34 fans suing Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray, who was jailed in 2011 over the singer's death from an overdose, for the suffering they endured.
The court ruled that five of the plaintiffs - two from France, two from Switzerland and one from Belgium - had proven emotional suffering from Jackson's death.
“As far as I know this is the first time in the world that the notion of emotional damage in connection with a pop star has been recognised,” their lawyer, Emmanuel Ludot, told AFP.
He praised the plaintiffs for “going through with the process despite the sneers” it aroused.
He said they had proven their suffering “with the help of witness statements and medical certificates”.
The case was brought by a group known as the “Michael Jackson Community” based near Orleans in central France.
Ludot said the damages were symbolic and the plaintiffs would not be seeking to claim the one euro each from Murray, who was released in October after serving two years of his four-year sentence.
But he said they hoped their status as recognised victims would help them gain access to Jackson's gravesite in Los Angeles, which is closed to the public.
Law professor Philippe Brun of the Universite de Savoie said the decision was “unprecedented” and would be difficult to uphold on appeal.
“If this ruling is appealed, I doubt it could withstand scrutiny because there is a contradiction between suffering emotional damage and the symbolic nature of the allocated sum,” he said.
Jackson died in 2009 aged 50 from an overdose of the anaesthetic propofol while under Murray's care, as the “King of Pop” rehearsed in Los Angeles for a series of comeback concerts in London.