To the jury, the case was as plain as the nose on Michael Jackson's face. In the lawsuit filed against Jackson by concert promoter Marcel Avram, at which Jackson shocked the world with his testimony last November merely by showing his face, the Santa Maria, Calif., jury ruled Thursday that the singer owes Avram $5.3 million for pulling out of the promoter's planned ''millennium'' concerts on New Year's Eve 1999.
Jackson's attorney, Zia Modabber, spun the verdict as a victory for his client, telling Reuters, ''Mr. Avram didn't get nearly what he wanted.'' (He had sued for $21 million). Modabber also said he's considering an appeal. In fact, Avram's attorney, Skip Miller, is planning an appeal as well, saying that procedural rulings by the judge prevented jurors from considering some $6 million of the damages Avram claimed.
The ruling wasn't the only piece of bad financial news for the King of Pop on Thursday. According to the Associated Press, Jackson may have violated zoning rules in Santa Barbara County by claiming his Neverland Ranch is an agricultural preserve, earning himself a generous tax break. County supervising planner Larry Appel says the developed portion of Neverland -- including buildings and the amusement park rides -- covers three times the acreage it should in order to merit the tax break. He'll present his findings to the county on Friday, which could result in Jackson being ordered either to raze some of the buildings or cough up the tax difference.