Suit by Jackson’s mom focuses on concert backer
LOS ANGELES – A lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson’s mother once again places the spotlight on the pop star’s final days as it focuses not just on the doctor charged in his death but also on the concert promoter that was supposed to pay the physician.
Katherine Jackson sued AEG Live LLC in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, claiming the promoter of a her son’s planned series of comeback concerts failed to provide key lifesaving equipment and adequately monitor the cardiologist hired to care for her son.
The case cites numerous events that allegedly occurred in the two months prior to Jackson’s death in June 2009, including details of negotiations between AEG and Dr. Conrad Murray.
The physician has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and his actions in the hours before Michael Jackson’s death will be the subject of a criminal trial. Murray has pleaded not guilty and is not named as a defendant in Katherine Jackson’s lawsuit, although he is frequently mentioned.
Murray’s proposed contract was not included in Wednesday’s filing, but a copy obtained earlier this year by The Associated Press revealed that Murray requested a heart resuscitation machine and another person with medical training from AEG. The equipment was not in place when Jackson died.
« At the time of his death, Michael Jackson was under the immediate care of a doctor selected by, hired by, and controlled by AEG; indeed AEG demanded and required that Michael Jackson be treated by this particular doctor to ensure that Michael Jackson would attend all rehearsals and shows on the tour, » the complaint stated.
AEG spokesman Michael Roth said the company has not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment. The company has said that Jackson died before signing Murray’s contract and that it is not binding.
Katherine Jackson’s lawsuit contends AEG, which had already invested millions of dollars in her son’s comeback shows, did not have his best interests in mind.
« AEG’s representations to Jackson were false because in reality AEG was merely doing whatever it took to make sure that Michael Jackson could make it to rehearsals and shows and AEG did not provide a doctor who was truly looking out for Jackson’s well-being and did not provide equipment, » the lawsuit stated.
The comeback concerts in London sold out in anticipation of Jackson’s return as the King of Pop.
Despite years of self-imposed exile, he retained a huge, loyal following of fans overjoyed at the prospect of seeing him reclaim the glory he’d attained with albums like « Thriller » and songs like « Beat It! » and « Billie Jean. »
The lawsuit places Katherine Jackson in direct conflict with a major source of money for her son’s estate. She, along with Michael Jackson’s three children, are the primary beneficiaries of an estate that some experts have predicted may surpass Elvis Presley’s in profitability.
Weeks after Jackson’s death, a deal between his estate, AEG and Columbia Pictures resulted in a $ 60 million deal to rights for the footage that became the film « This Is It. » The estate is slated to receive 90 percent of the profits of the film.
The concert promoter was also involved in the public memorial for Jackson at AEG’s Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Katherine Jackson’s attorneys at the time had expressed concerns about AEG’s involvement, but had not raised issues publicly in recent months after hiring a new attorney, Adam Streisand, to represent her interests. Streisand did not return a phone message seeking comment on the lawsuit.
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