Michael Jackson wrongful death trial nearing end
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — AEG Live lawyers changed their mind about calling Katherine Jackson as their last witness in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial.
Instead, lawyers for the concert promoter may play a portion of Prince Jackson’s video deposition before resting its defense case Wednesday.
The five-month-long trial in Los Angeles is nearing an end, an closing arguments could be delivered on Monday. Testimony, which has been on hold for more than a week because of an illness in one juror’s family, resumes Wednesday.
Jackson’s mother and three children are suing AEG Live, contending that the concert promoter was liable for the pop icon’s death because it hired, retained or supervised the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
AEG Live argues that Jackson chose and controlled Dr. Conrad Murray and that its executives had no way of knowing about the dangerous treatments he was giving the star in his bedroom.
Jackson died of an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol, which Murray told investigators he used to treat the singer’s insomnia so he could rest for comeback concert rehearsals in the summer of 2009.
AEG Live lawyer Marvin Putnam announced in court last week that he intended to call Michael Jackson’s elderly mother to question her “about the absurdity of the damages” she wants the jury to award if they decide the company is liable. Putnam informed the court and Jackson’s lawyers Monday that he had decided not to call her again.
A Jackson lawyer argued that AEG Live’s “intent is to show the lawsuit’s purpose is greed,” while the judge suggested that any mother could be expected to say “there is no amount of money that would substitute for the loss of her son.”
Putnam has frequently cited in interviews a “statement of damages” letter sent to him by a Jackson lawyer last year capping possible damages at $40 billion, but the judge ruled that he could not refer to it in court because it was not a sworn filing in the case.
Jackson lawyer Kevin Boyle pointed out that the lawsuit complaint only says that damages would be “according to proof at trial,” based on testimony by several expert witnesses who have testified.
Jackson expert Arthur Erk — a certified public accountant who has managed and audited the business affairs of many top artists — testified that he was “reasonably certain” that Jackson would have earned at least $1.5 billion from touring, endorsements and sponsorships had he not died from a propofol overdose preparing for his “This Is It” tour.
“It is very difficult to assess the value of the King of Pop,” Jackson lawyer Deborah Chang told the judge Wednesday. “How do you even do that?”
The non-economic damages suffered because of Michael Jackson’s death could be enormous considering “what happened to Paris Jackson,” she said. Jackson’s 15-year-old daughter attempted suicide in June and remains in a treatment program.
Jackson lawyers seemed to welcome the prospect of AEG Live calling their client as their final witness, considering how jurors reacted when she was on the stand in July. Jurors leaned forward and paid close attention during her two days of testimony as the last witness in their case.
“Why are you here?” Jackson lawyer Brian Panish asked her.
“Because I want to know what really happened to my son,” she said. “And that’s why I am here.”
Panish asked Jackson how it made her feel to be asked probing and personal questions about her family by AEG Live lawyer Marvin Putnam.
“It makes me feel real bad, because my son was a very good person,” she said. “He loved everybody. He gave to charity. He was in the Guinness Book of World Records for giving to charity.”
If jurors decide that AEG Live is liable in Jackson’s death, they could award damages based on the loss of the mother’s and children’s relationship with him and the amount of money he was unable to earn because his life was cut short.
After AEG Live rests its case — which lawyers indicated would happen Wednesday — the Jackson lawyers would have a chance to call several rebuttal witnesses.