A LAWYER acting for Michael Jackson’s 83-year-old mother Katherine has accused his concert promoters of negligence for its part in hiring a personal physician who gave him nightly doses of the anaesthetic drug propofol which killed him.
Brian Panish portrayed AEG Live as a heartless, money-making machine which shared responsibility with the deceased pop star – who died of cardiac arrest caused by the overdose on 25 June, 2009, at his LA home – for hiring Dr Conrad Murray.
Mrs Jackson is suing AEG Live for £26 billion.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter and jailed for four years after giving Jackson, 50, an overdose of the drug as the superstar fought chronic insomnia. The drug is intended only for use in hospitals during operations. Murray is expected to be released later this month.
In closing comments on Thursday night, Mr Panish said: “Think of a bicycle built for two. Both can cause the harm.”
He did not blame Jackson for seeking propofol and instead slated AEG for hiring the doctor who gave it to him.
“Propofol might not be the best idea,” Mr Panish said. “But if you have a competent doctor, you’re not going to die.”
Mr Panish claimed that AEG executives such as chief executive officers Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware disdained Jackson and reminded jurors of an e-mail in which an AEG attorney referred to Jackson as “the freak”.
“They’re a money-making machine,” Mr Panish said. “All they care about is how much money is this freak going to make for them. It’s not right, ladies and gentlemen. It would not be right to allow Gongaware and Phillips to skate down the street and click their champagne glasses at AEG Live.”
Both executives were initially named as defendants but were dismissed from the case during the trial.
Mr Panish showed jurors details of a contract drafted by AEG Live but only signed by Murray. He said it proved that AEG wanted to control the doctor.
The plaintiff’s last argument came a day after AEG Live’s lawyer Marvin Putnam told jurors that Jackson was the architect of his own demise and no-one else can be blamed. Mr 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, Mr Putnam said.
“It was his money and he certainly wasn’t going to take no for an answer,” he said.
Mr Putnam showed brief excerpts from the This Is It documentary to show that Jackson appeared in top form just 12 hours before he died.
“AEG Live did not have a crystal ball,” he said. “Dr Murray and Mr Jackson fooled everyone. They want to blame AEG for something no-one saw.”
If AEG Live had known about the propofol treatments, it would have pulled the plug on the planned tour, the lawyer said. “AEG would have never agreed to finance this tour if they knew Mr Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night.”
If jurors find AEG did not hire Murray, their work will be done quickly and they need not decide four other questions.
A unanimous verdict is not required in the case. Only nine of the 12 jurors must agree.