Jackson case now with jury
A lawyer for the Jacksonfamily put a price tag on the singer’s death, saying AEG Live should pay $85 million in personal damages to each child, and $35 million to Katherine Jackson.
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — After a bitterly fought five-month trial, a negligence lawsuit by Michael Jackson’s mother against his concert promoter was placed in the hands of a jury Thursday after a final plea by a Jackson lawyer to punish the company he portrayed as a heartless, moneymaking machine.
Attorney Brian Panish, who represents Katherine Jackson and Michael Jackson’s three children, urged the six women and six men on the jury to find that defendant AEG Live and Michael Jackson shared responsibility for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician whose treatments killed the superstar in 2009, as he was preparing for a 50-night set of concerts in London
A lawyer for AEG Live suggested the promoter was pressured by Jackson to hire Murray as his personal physician, and was deceived when Jackson and Murray hid that the singer was receiving nightly doses of the anesthetic propofol in his bedroom.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson an overdose of propofol as a sleep aid. Murray is in prison.
Panish used his rebuttal to urge the jury to find that AEG hired Murray without considering whether he was fit for the job. AEG lawyers say it was Jackson who hired the doctor. Panish claimed that AEG executives such as Chief Executive Randy Phillips and co-Chief Executive Paul Gongaware disdained Jackson and reminded jurors of an email in which an AEG attorney referred to Jackson as “the freak.”
“They’re a moneymaking machine,” Panish said. “All they care about is how much money is this freak going to make for them.”
Panish showed jurors details of a contract that was drafted by AEG Live but only signed by Murray. He said it proved AEG wanted to control the doctor.
The argument came a day after AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam told jurors that Jackson was the architect of his own demise and no one else can be blamed. Putnam said Jackson insisted on hiring the cardiologist, despite objections from AEG Live.
The company told Jackson there were great doctors in London but the singer would not be deterred, Putnam said.
Panish put a price tag on the singer’s death, saying AEG should pay $85 million in personal damages to each child, and $35 million to Katherine Jackson.
Those figures, though, could pale compared to the potential economic damages jurors could award if AEG is found liable in Jackson’s death. An expert witness for the Jackson family calculated the performer could have made as much as $1.5 billion had he lived from a world tour, endorsements, new music and a Las Vegas show that was under discussion.
Putnam, the AEG attorney, scoffed at the calculation, saying its expert witness put the economic damages from Jackson’s death closer to $21 million.
Material from the Los Angeles Times is included in this report.