Lawyer details Jackson’s life, struggle with drugs
FILE - In this April 27, 2011 file photo, Katherine Jackson poses for a portrait in Calabasas, Calif. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday April 29, 2013, in Jacksons lawsuit against concert giant AEG Live over her son Michaels 2009 death. Katherine Jackson claims the company failed to properly investigate the doctor who was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for the singers death, but the company denies all wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 28, 2005 file photo, Michael Jackson follows his mother, Katherine Jackson, as they arrive for court on the opening day of his child molestation trial at Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria, Calif. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday April 29, 2013, in Katherine Jacksons lawsuit against concert giant AEG Live over Michaels 2009 death. Katherine Jackson claims the company failed to properly investigate the doctor who was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for the singers death, but the company denies all wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Randy Jackson and Rebbie Jackson, background right, brother and sister of late pop star Michael Jackson, arrive at a courthouse for Katherine Jackson's lawsuit against concert giant AEG Live in Los Angeles, Monday, April 29, 2013. An attorney for Michael Jackson's mother says AEG Live owed it to the pop superstar to properly investigate the doctor held criminally responsible for his death. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Former Michael Jackson's attorney Thomas Mesereau talks to reporters as he arrives at a courthouse for Katherine Jackson's lawsuit against concert giant AEG Live in Los Angeles, Monday, April 29, 2013. Mesereau is expected to testify during the trial. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Michael Jackson’s family and friends knew he was addicted to prescription medications, but the only ones who refused to acknowledge it were the promoters of his ill-fated final series of comeback concerts, an attorney for the singer’s mother told a jury yesterday.
Lawyer Brian Panish traced Jackson’s addiction in the opening statements of the trial of a wrongful death lawsuit against concert giant AEG Live, telling jurors the company ignored numerous warning signs about the singer’s health in his final months.
The opening remarks included emails between AEG executives about Jackson’s health. Panish also played a clip of the singer performing days before his death in June 2009.
“You’re going to hear the whole story about what happened in the death of Michael Jackson,” the attorney said.
Jackson’s mother, brother Randy and sister Rebbie sat in the front row of the courtroom as Panish detailed aspects of Jackson’s life. Jurors looked at numerous slides and several scribbled notes. A couple of jurors nodded their heads when the lawyer referenced Jackson’s achievements, including successful concert tours and a Super Bowl performance.
Panish told the jury that it would ultimately have to decide whether Jackson’s mother and his three children deserve compensation for AEG’s conduct. Millions, possibly billions, of dollars are at stake.
An attorney for AEG was expected to begin addressing the panel later yesterday.
Katherine Jackson sued the company in 2010, claiming it failed to properly investigate physician Conrad Murray before allowing him to serve as Jackson’s tour doctor as he prepared for his “This Is It” shows. She is also suing on behalf of her son’s three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket.
AEG denies it hired Murray, and its attorneys have said they could not have foreseen the circumstances that led to Jackson’s death at age 50.
A jury previously convicted Murray of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors said he gave Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol in 2011. The hospital-grade anesthetic was being administered as a sleep aid.
Panish told jurors they would be putting together a puzzle, with Jackson, Murray and AEG Live as the three pieces.
He said Jackson suffered from addiction to prescription medications and Demerol at times during his life, and the problem increased when he was keeping up a rigorous schedule. Panish cited a 1984 accident that injured Jackson during a Pepsi commercial shoot as causing the singer tremendous physical pain throughout his life.
“People who knew him believed he had a problem with prescription medication,” Panish told jurors. He said the only group that claims they didn’t know about Jackson’s addiction issues were AEG and its executives.
Emails between AEG executives will be some of the key evidence in the case, which may last 90 trial days.
Panish displayed a March 2009 email sent before a press conference featuring Jackson, in which AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips wrote to Tim Leiweke, the former CEO of AEG’S parent company, that Jackson was drunk and refusing to address fans. “This is the scariest thing I have ever seen,” Phillips wrote Leiweke. “He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it’s show time. He’s scared to death.”
Panish said Jackson’s behavior was just one of several warning signs that the company ignored before the death.