Trial date set for Jackson lawsuit

2013-03-05 15:04
Los Angeles - A wrongful death suit against the promoter of Michael Jackson's ill-fated comeback tour is set to go to trial in April, after a judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case, CNN reported on Monday.

Jackson's mother, Katherine, and his three children, accuse the promoter AEG Live of pressuring Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, to disregard medical procedures to ensure that the frail Jackson could attend rehearsals ahead of the planned This is It comeback tour in 2009.

Jackson died in June 2009 from a heart attack, after Murray injected him with the hospital anaesthetic Propofil as a sleep aid.

According to the CNN report, the judge ruled that the Jackson family had shown enough evidence that AEG Live employed and supervised Murray to warrant a jury trial that will begin on 2 April.

'Smoking gun' emails

"The truth about what happened to Michael, which AEG has tried to keep hidden from the public since the day Michael died, is finally emerging," Jackson lawyer Kevin Boyle said.

"We look forward to the trial, where the rest of the story will come to light."

Legal analysts said that Jackson's family will ask AEG Live to pay damages amounting to all the earnings Jackson could have been expected to make during the rest of his lifetime, potentially amounting to billions of dollars.

While AEG Live contends that it bears no responsibility because Murray was Jackson's personal doctor, Jackson's lawyers maintain that several "smoking gun" emails prove that the company was in control of the doctor, who is currently serving a four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

'Unbiased and ethical'

In one e-mail to show director Kenny Ortega 11 days before Jackson's death, AEG Live co-chief executive Paul Gongaware allegedly wrote: "We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him."

Murray was deeply in debt at the time and was earning $150 000 a month to care for Jackson.

"This doctor is extremely successful (we check everyone out) and does not need this gig, so he is totally unbiased and ethical," AEG Live president Randy Phillips was quoted as saying in another email.

The concert company has denied being responsible for Jackson's death. AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam said last year that the company "did not hire Dr Murray, nor were they responsible for the death of Michael Jackson".