Lawyers in the trial pitting Michael Jackson’s family against his last tour promoter will begin making closing arguments Tuesday, after five months in court, officials said.
His mother Katherine is suing AEG Live for allegedly negligently hiring doctor Conrad Murray and failing to properly supervise him in the months before the pop icon’s June 2009 death.
The 83-year-old family matriarch has listened attentively to proceedings from a front-row seat in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom, where the trial got under way in April.
For the closing arguments and verdict, proceedings will be held in a large special events room at the downtown LA courthouse, rather than in the cramped courtroom where the trial has been held until now, limiting the number of media and spectators who can attend.
Katherine Jackson is seeking billions of dollars in damages — $1.5 billion in lost income and an unspecified amount for emotional loss and other damages — on behalf of Jackson’s children Prince Michael I, 16, Paris, 15 and 11-year-old Prince Michael II, known by his nickname “Blanket.”
While it is tough to predict the jury’s verdict, observers say her case appears difficult to prove. Earlier this month, the judge dismissed her claims against two AEG Live bosses, leaving only AEG Live itself in the line of fire.
The self-proclaimed King of Pop died on June 25, 2009 at his rented Holmby Hills mansion outside Los Angeles, from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol. He was 50 years old.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for giving the drug to the “Thriller” star — who suffered from chronic insomnia — to help him sleep. He was jailed for four years.
Pop legend Jackson was rehearsing for a planned “This is It” series of comeback concerts in London, which were expected to be followed by a world tour of the show.
Katherine Jackson alleges that AEG Live negligently hired an inappropriate and incompetent doctor for her son — Murray is a cardiologist — and missed a series of red flags about his failing health in the run-up to his death.
AEG Live counters that it did not sign a contract with Murray, and that a promised $150,000 a month for his services would come from an advance it was making to Jackson, meaning effectively that the star hired his own medic.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]