Katherine Jackson’s lawyer says Michael Jackson’s promoters AEG Live failed properly to vet Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of causing the megastar’s death from a drug overdose, as a wrongful death lawsuit opens.
Katherine Jackson and his three children say AEG Live should be held liable for Michael Jackson’s death in 2009.
The promoters say they did no wrong and could not have foreseen Michael Jackson’s death on the eve of his comeback tour.
Millions of dollars are at stake in the trial, which could last up to 90 days.
Brian Panish, who represents Michael Jackson’s relatives, told a court in Los Angeles that AEG Live was the only party that maintained it was unaware of the star’s addiction to prescription drugs.
“Over the years Michael’s family and people who knew him believed he had a problem with prescription medication,” Brian Panish told a jury of six men and six women.
“His stirring voice, his musical genius, his creativity and his generosity and his huge heart was extinguished forever,” the lawyer said, adding that jurors would have to decide who was responsible for the star’s death.
But AEG Live’s lawyer Marvin Putnam said Michael Jackson’s closely guarded private life left the promoters in the dark about his drug dependence.
“The truth is, Michael Jackson fooled everyone,” Marvin Putnam said.
“He made sure that no-one, nobody, knew his deepest darkest secrets.”
The case, which is expected to focus on the last months of Michael Jackson’s life, his financial history and his overall health, could feature testimony from his children.
It is also reported that stars such as singer Diana Ross, director Spike Lee and music producer Quincy Jones may take the stand.
The trial is expected to focus on Conrad Murray, the former cardiologist who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for administering a combination of sedatives and the anaesthetic propofol that killed Jackson.
The Jackson family claims in its suit, filed in 2010, that AEG Live had not properly investigated Conrad Murray’s background before he was hired to serve as Michael Jackson’s personal physician.
Conrad Murray was to be paid $150,000 a month during the This Is It concert series, but Michael Jackson died before the tour began.
The doctor is in prison, appealing against his conviction.
AEG Live is expected to argue that Michael Jackson had selected Conrad Murray to be his personal doctor, and that Murray was not officially an AEG Live employee.
Michael Jackson’s family is expected to argue the concert promoters put pressure on Conrad Murray to get the megastar ready for the gruelling tour schedule despite the pop icon’s fragile health.
Famous members of Michael Jackson’s family, including his sister Janet, are also expected to attend the trial.