We wonder if AEG or Dr. Conrad Murray will ever take responsibility.
According to NY Daily News
Michael Jackson died in 2009 because a “ruthless” group of concert promoters pushed the drug-addicted superstar and ignored his downward spiral, a lawyer for the star’s heirs said Monday.
In his opening statement in the Jackson wrongful death trial in Los Angeles, lawyer Brian Panish said the concert company AEG Live was so desperate to stage Jackson’s comeback show that it negligently hired Dr. Conrad Murray, the jailed doctor whose prescriptions caused the King of Pop’s overdose death.
“There will be no question in your mind they were ruthless,” he told jurors. “They wanted to … be No. 1. They wanted to be No. 1 at all costs.”
He said AEG’s top brass knew Jackson had a history of substance abuse while touring, that he was drunk before a press conference announcing the 2009 comeback concert tour deal and that his doctor was asking for an “exorbitant” $5 million payday that belied the professional risks he was taking.
“There were no rules. It didn’t matter to them what it took. They were going to get it done,” Panish said of the deal to stage the 50-show gig at London’s O2 arena. “No matter what problems Michael Jackson had … there was nothing, nothing going to get in the way.”
AEG, he added, “didn’t care who got lost in the wash.”
The concert company has denied any wrongdoing in the civil lawsuit filed in 2010 by Katherine Jackson and Michael’s three children.
The company claims Michael Jackson personally hired Murray and that it had no obligation to do a background check or supervise the medicine man’s day-to-day actions.
The heirs are asking for jury damages estimated in the billions.
Panish admitted to jurors Jackson had a problem with prescription pain killers ever since he suffered serious burns while filming a Pepsi commercial.
He said AEG knew about the opiate dependence because AEG honcho Paul Gongaware worked on his “Dangerous” tour in 1992 and 1993.
The pain doctor on that tour, Dr. Stuart Finkelstein, previously testified that Jackson needed an intervention and detox during the earlier concert series – and that Gongaware was made aware, Panish said.
AEG approached Finkelstein about joining the “This Is It” concert series, but decided to hire Murray for $150,000 a month even though Finkelstein only asked for $40,000 a month, Panish said.
“They ignored the obvious red flags and hired Dr. Murray,” he told jurors.
He said Murray was “financially desperate” at the time, facing foreclosure on a Nevada home, overdue child support and heavy debt.
Panish stopped short of suggesting AEG knew about the propofol but showed jurors excerpts from a June 14, 2009, email — sent two weeks before Jackson’s death — which suggests Murray was pressured into keeping Jackson happy and available.
In the email, Gongaware revealed a plan to meet with Dr. Murray to discuss Jackson’s absence at a recent rehearsal.
“We want to remind him that it’s AEG, not MJ, who’s paying his salary,” Gongaware’s email, shown to jurors, said.
“Does this sound like some company who wants to make sure everything is being done to care for an artist?” Panish asked the jury. “Does this sound like a company that exercised reasonable care in supervising and retaining a doctor? Remember, in 11 days, Michael Jackson is dead.”
Do you think AEG is to blame for Michael’s death?