Tuesday 12 December 2017

Jackson 'died from own bad choices'

Michael Jackson died in 2009 (AP/Joel Ryan)
Michael Jackson died in 2009 (AP/Joel Ryan)

Michael Jackson died solely because of his own bad choices involving the drug that killed him and the doctor who provided it, a lawyer for the producer of the singer's UK comeback concerts told jurors.

Delivering his closing argument in the long-running negligence case by Jackson's family, defence lawyer Marvin Putnam said the secretive star never told the producers that he was using the hospital anaesthetic propofol to overcome his chronic insomnia.

If AEG Live had known, it would have pulled the plug on the planned tour, the lawyer said.

"AEG would have never agreed to finance this tour if they knew Mr Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night," Mr Putnam told jurors in Los Angeles.

Mr Putnam also said AEG Live tried to deter Jackson from hiring Dr Conrad Murray, who was later found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in his death, but Jackson "wouldn't take no for an answer".

Only after Jackson's death in June 2009, he said, did the company learn about the secret propofol treatments by Murray.

"AEG only learned the truth after Mr Jackson passed," Mr Putnam said. "They heard for the first time what propofol was."

Mr Putnam stressed that it was Jackson, not AEG, who insisted on hiring Murray, a cardiologist who had befriended the pop star in Las Vegas three years earlier. Jackson, who was using him as a family doctor, told AEG that Murray was to be his doctor for the This Is It shows in London, according to Mr Putnam.

"He didn't ask AEG," the lawyer said. "He said, 'We're using this doctor'. He was a grown man of 50 and as a grown man he is responsible for his own health and his own choices no matter how bad those choices may be."

AEG told Jackson there were great doctors in London but the singer would not be deterred, Mr Putnam said.

"It was his money and he certainly wasn't going to take no for an answer," he said.

Murray was convicted in 2011 after giving Jackson an overdose of propofol on the day he died. The drug is not meant to be used outside operating theatres.

With Jackson's mother Katherine, a plaintiff in the suit, seated in a front row, Mr Putnam reminded jurors that she said she wanted to know the truth about her son's demise. But she also gave evidence that she closed her ears when she heard bad things about him, he said.

He accused lawyers for the Jackson family of asking jurors to close their ears to facts surrounding the actions of the singer.

"He made some bad choices that resulted in a horrible tragedy. You can't blame someone else for his bad choices," Mr Putnam said.

A day earlier, a lawyer for Mrs Jackson had portrayed AEG Live executives and Murray as mercenaries who sacrificed the pop star's life in a quest to boost their own fortunes.

Lawyer Brian Panish said a 150,000 dollar-a-month (£94,000) contract to care for Jackson on tour was a lifeline to help Murray climb out of his financial troubles. He blamed AEG executives for failing to realise Murray was unfit for the job.

"Obviously, he was incompetent and unfit," Mr Panish said. "He caused the death of Michael Jackson."

The courtroom atmosphere was starkly changed when Mr Panish had brought Hollywood dazzle, showing professionally produced videos of the superstar's life and home movies of him with his children when they were babies.

Mr Putnam, however, focused his argument solely on the law and the evidence jurors had seen during the five-month trial. He showed emails and excerpts from proposed contracts, arguing that there never was a contract between Murray and AEG.

At one point he showed excerpts from This is It, the documentary about rehearsals for the O2 Arena concerts. He pointed out that Jackson appeared in control, performing perfectly on a rendition of Earth Song.

"And 12 hours later, he was dead," Mr Putnam said.

Judging from the footage, AEG could not have known the singer was receiving nightly doses of propofol from Murray, Mr Putnam said.

A key issue in the negligence suit is whether AEG Live or Michael Jackson hired Murray.

Mr Putnam said if jurors found AEG did not do the hiring, their work would be done and they need not decide other questions involving damages.

AP

Press Association

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