In a case of Michael Jackson still being in the news over 3 years since his untimely death in June 2009, his mother (Katherine Jackson) and his 3 children (Prince, Paris and Blanket) are suing concert promoter AEG Live for $40 billion in damages.
AEG Live was the company that was promoting what was then dubbed as “comeback concerts” for Michael Jackson in 2009. The “This Is It“ tour was a planned series of 50 concerts to be held in London beginning in July 2009 through March 2010. Prior to that, Michael Jackson hadn’t toured since the HIStory World Tour in 1997.
While rehearsing for the shows in June 2009, Michael Jackson died after Dr. Conrad Murray administered a lethal dose of propofol, a powerful anesthetic, to help Jackson sleep. (In November 2011, Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 4 years in the Los Angeles County jail.)
The Jackson family’s suit alleges that AEG Live hired Dr. Murray even though they had not (the suit claims) properly investigated him before agreeing to pay Murray $150,000 a month to be Jackson’s doctor. Kevin Boyle, Katherine Jackson’s attorney, told the court in early March that because AEG Live was controlling Murray’s actions, they should be ultimately responsible. Boyle pointed out that Murray was in debt and that alone created a conflict between caring properly for Michael Jackson and maintaining Murray’s own financial security. The attorney also stated that Murray was not a board-certified cardiologist.
In response, AEG’s attorneys say that Murray had treated Jackson in the past and allege that Michael Jackson had a long-time drug problem before he entered into any agreement with AEG Live to promote his concerts.
AEG has indicated they will be calling Dr. Murray as a witness (despite the objections of the Jackson family and their attorneys) and apparently the judge will allow his testimony (without the jury being present). Dr. Murray, however, has indicated in a statement that he is refusing to testify and, if called to the stand, will take the fifth so as not to incriminate himself. (He did not testify at his own trial and has never answered questions while under oath about Michael Jackson’s death, although he did conduct a fairly bizarre interview with CNN’s Don Lemon recently in which he said he’s been made a scapegoat who was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Michael Jackson died).
Jury selection is under way right now. Since the trial could conceivably last for 3 or more months, finding citizens willing to serve that long is proving a time-consuming process in itself. Stay tuned as the trial begins for more updates on this lawsuit.