An attorney for concert giant AEG Live has said the company could not have known while promoting comeback concerts that Michael Jackson was using an anesthetic that killed him.
Lawyer Marvin S Putnam addressed jurors yesterday in opening statements of the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Jackson’s mother against AEG.
He said the company did not have access to information shared between Jackson and his doctors.
Mr Putnam’s remarks came after Katherine Jackson’s attorney, Brian Panish, played a song Jackson recorded for his children and detailed the singer’s struggles with addiction throughout his life.
Mrs Jackson’s lawsuit accuses AEG of failing to properly investigate the doctor who cared for Jackson and was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter in June 2009.
Earlier, Mr Panish told the civil trial: “You’re going to hear the whole story about what happened in the death of Michael Jackson.”
Jackson’s mother, brother Randy and sister Rebbie sat in the front row of the courtroom as Mr Panish detailed aspects of Jackson’s life.
Mrs Jackson first sued AEG in September 2010, claiming that it failed to properly investigate former physician Conrad Murray before allowing him to serve as Jackson’s tour doctor. She is also suing on behalf of her son’s children, Prince, Paris and Blanket.
AEG denies it hired Murray and its lawyers have said the firm could not have foreseen the circumstances that led to Jackson’s death at the age of 50.
In 2011, a jury convicted Murray of giving Jackson a fatal dose of the anaesthetic propofol. The hospital-grade medicine was administered as a sleep aid.
Mr Panish yesterday told jurors they would be putting together a puzzle, with three pieces being Jackson, Murray and AEG Live.
He told the panel that Jackson suffered from addiction to prescription medications at times during his life, and the problem increased when he was keeping up a rigorous schedule.
Mr Panish cited a 1984 accident that injured Jackson during a Pepsi commercial suit as causing the singer tremendous physical pain throughout his life.
“Over the years Michael’s family and people who knew him believed he had a problem with prescription medication,” Mr Panish told jurors.
He said the only group that would claim they didn’t know about Jackson’s addiction issues was AEG and its executives.
The lawyer showed a brief clip of Jackson rehearsing for the This Is It shows and a clip of the singer dancing in the early stages of his presentation. He also showed footage of 1999 show in Munich, Germany, in which Jackson was performing when a bridge dropped 50ft with the singer on it.
Despite being in pain, Jackson continued performing, Mr Panish said. Mr Panish said Jackson turned to prescription medication Demerol to relieve his pain.
Mr Panish also detailed Murray’s money problems, including an impending foreclosure and other debts. AEG also had issues, the lawyer told jurors, saying the company was feeling intense pressure from rival concert promoter Live Nation. He said AEG saw the Jackson shows as a way to make a lot of money and better compete with Live Nation.
He said the company was so concerned with getting Jackson to perform, “they didn’t care who got lost in the wash”.
Mr Panish also showed jurors several e-mails between key AEG executives discussing the pop star’s condition in the months before his death. The lawyer displayed a March 2009 e-mail before a press conference featuring Jackson, in which AEG Live chief executive Randy Phillips wrote to the former chief of AEG’S parent company, Tim , that Jackson was drunk and refusing to address fans.
“This is the scariest thing I have ever seen,” Phillips wrote. “He is an emotionally paralysed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it’s show time. He’s scared to death.”