LOS ANGELES (CNS) Despite the singer's known history of drug dependency, AEG Live pushed Michael Jackson to meet the demands of his never-realized concert tour and hired Dr. Conrad Murray to make sure he was ready, an attorney told a jury today.
"They chose to run the risk and make a huge profit,'' lawyer Brian Panish said in closing arguments of the trial of Katherine Jackson's negligent-hiring lawsuit against AEG Live. ``But they lost and they are responsible."
Panish said Jackson had earnings potential of up to $1.2 billion if he lived to perform the ``This Is It'' concerts in London, along with subsequent
performances worldwide, a Las Vegas show and a movie deal.
"The world wanted Michael Jackson,'' Panish told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury.
He recommended that jurors allocate the total damage award at 30 percent each to the singer's three children and 10 percent to his mother.
"Mrs. Jackson lost a son and the children lost a father,'' Panish said.
Panish said it was up to jurors to decide a final figure.
"There is no formula, it's based on what is just and fair,'' Panish said.
He then showed a video of Jackson at various stages of his career, performing a montage of hits as both a child and adult.
"That's the best evidence that Michael Jackson could have sold tickets,'' Panish said at the conclusion of the video.
According to Panish, AEG Live had numerous warning signs that Jackson might not be physically capable of a 50-concert tour, but the company moved forward anyway.
"They wanted him so badly they would do whatever it took to get him back on stage,'' Panish said.
AEG Live maintains the company could not have fired Murray, but the evidence shows otherwise, Panish said.
To drive home his contention that AEG Live was responsible for Murray's hiring, Panish played a clip of a television interview given by AEG Live CEO
Brandon Phillips, who said Murray had agreed to give up his practice to care for the singer during the planned ``This Is It'' concerts, ``So we hired him.''
"He's the CEO of the company,'' Panish said. ``He's as high as it gets.''
Once the lawsuit was filed, however, the company contended it had no right to hire or fire Jackson's personal physician, Panish said.
"Sure they could,'' he said. ``At any time they could have done this.''
The 83-year-old Jackson family matriarch sued in September 2010 on behalf of herself and her son's three children, Michael Jr., Paris-Michael Katherine and Prince Michael, claiming that the company hired Murray to be Jackson's personal physician.
Jackson died at age 50 on June 25, 2009, of acute propofol intoxication at a rented Holmby Hills estate. Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering the powerful anesthetic to the singer. Murray was sentenced in November 2011 to four years in the Los Angeles County men's jail.
AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam maintained during the trial that his clients never hired Murray and that the cardiologist, in fact, had been one of many doctors who had treated the singer in the past. Putnam also said Jackson had a drug problem for years before he entered into any agreements to perform on behalf of AEG Live.
Panish conceded during the trial, and again during his closing argument, that Jackson had a history of prescription-drug abuse, a fact that was publicly known.
Jackson ``abused prescription medications during times of pain, anxiety and stress,'' Panish said. ``... It's not disputed that everyone really knew
The attorney described Jackson as the ``greatest entertainer of all time.''
"He wanted to share that gift to heal the world ... but that gift came with a huge price,'' Panish said. ``He also endured more physical, mental and
emotional pain than any of us could have ever imagined.''
Panish described Jackson as someone who rose from humble beginnings in a two-room home to one of the most famous people in the world.
"He met presidents, queens and kings,'' Panish said.
The lawyer also described Jackson as a ``real life Peter Pan'' who created Neverland Ranch in his image.
Jurors heard 21 weeks of testimony in the trial. Closing arguments are expected to last until Thursday.
Putnam has maintained that a proposed contract between Murray and AEG Live was never executed before Jackson's death. However, Los Angeles Superior
Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos found that a contract could be implied by various actions taken by the company, including discussions to pay him $150,000 a month.
Attorneys for the Jacksons maintain that AEG Live, in allegedly hiring Murray, gave little consideration to red flags showing that the doctor was in
debt and not a board-certified cardiologist.
Palazuelos dismissed Timothy Leiweke, AEG Inc.'s former president and chief executive officer, and that company as defendants before trial. Several
months into the trial, she also tossed all allegations against Phillips and Paul Gongaware, co-chief executive officer of Concerts West -- a division of AEG Live.
Posted by Karla Marquez