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Jackson Family Blames AEG For Singer’s Death

Hannah Madans |
November 9, 2011 | 12:24 p.m. PST

Associate News Editor

Michael Jackson’s family alleges pressure from his upcoming “This Is It” tour drove the singer to propofol. (courtesy Creative Commons)
Michael Jackson’s family alleges pressure from his upcoming “This Is It” tour drove the singer to propofol. (courtesy Creative Commons)
After Dr. Conrad Murray’s conviction of involuntary manslaughter, Michael Jackson’s family is now shifting the blame of the singer’s death to the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).

Katherine Jackson and he grandchildren are pressing a wrongful death suit against AEG in civil court.

The case will likely be tried in September. The case will involve many of the same issues as the criminal trial of Murray, according to the L.A. Times, but will also talk about Michael Jackson’s finances and years of drug abuse, which were deemed irrelevant to Murray’s case.

"The conviction of Dr. Murray is just the beginning of bringing forth the truth on what happened to Michael Jackson," Brian Panish, an attorney for the Jackson family, told the L.A. Times. "Forces much larger than Dr. Murray were involved in this tragedy."

Jackson family lawyers have not specified how much money they are seeking.

In court papers the Jackson family portrayed AEG as a “heartless, bottom-line-driven business that contributed to the singer’s death by pressuring him to prepare for performances that he wasn’t physically capable of pulling off,” according to the L.A. Times. The documents argued that the pressure pushed Jackson to Murray and the use of propofol.

AEG Live CEO Rand Phillips denied pressuring Michael Jackson into a comeback tour during his testimony at Murray’s trial and said that Michael Jackson was desperate for money. Michael Jackson “wanted to settle down and get a really, really good home for his family, for the kids. He said they were living like vagabonds," USA Today reports Phillips said in his testimony.  His testimony refuted claims that AEG was pressuring Michael Jackson into a tour he did not want to commit to.

AEG also denied accusations of attempting to control Jackson.

"Michael Jackson was not helpless or incompetent; he lived in his own home, negotiated his own contracts, engaged his own attorneys, and cared for his own family," lawyers for the company wrote to the L.A. Times. "He at all times retained the option of refusing Dr. Murray's services, or of canceling his agreement with AEG."

Three AEG company officials who testified at Murray’s trial said that Murray was a good doctor who had nothing but the best interests for Jackson.

The civil trial by Katherine Jackson and her grandchildren filed in September 2010 does not name Murray. A separate civil case filed by Joe Jackson in November 2010, however, could hold Murray liable for medical malpractice, according to ABC. The cases may be combined.

The trial will focus on money, according to the L.A. Times. AEG advanced Michael Jackson’s money against future concert earnings and had the right to seize his assets if he failed to preform 50 shows in London.

The tour had the potential to erase Michael Jackson $400-million debt, according to Betty Confidential.

At the time of his death, AEG was paying for his rented mansion, his personal chef, his entire staff and production expenses. Michael Jackson was going to have to reimburse AEG $30-million for personal expenses. The tour was sold out, so neither parties were concerned, reports Betty Confidential.

Katherine Jackson told the L.A. Times that the relationship between AEG and Michael Jackson created a legal duty for AEG to “treat him safely and not put him in harm’s way.” She claims AEG breached this duty when contracting with Murray who was only interested in making sure Michael Jackson could preform.

AEG, however, testified during Murray’s trial that Murray was Michael Jackson’s personal choice and they wanted to hire a British doctor, the L.A. Times reports.

AEG never paid Murray, according to the L.A. Times.

The case will also seek to answer if AEG knew propofol was being used on an outpatient basis and if AEG knew the risks behind the drug, ABC reports.


Reach associate news editor Hannah Madans here.


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