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“He passed with flying colours”: Jacksons v AEG update

By | Published on Tuesday 28 May 2013

Michael Jackson

AEG Live General Counsel Shawn Trell completed his long testimony late last week in the ongoing Jacksons v AEG Live court battle. The Jackson family want AEG to be held liable for the death of Michael Jackson in 2009.

With the Jacksons trying hard to portray AEG management as ruthless and uncaring, and of ignoring Michael’s obvious health issues in Spring 2009 in order to stick to the schedule they’d made for the ill-fated ‘This Is It’ venture, attention late last week turned to the live music giant’s attempts to get insurance for that project.

Insurers had raised various concerns about Jackson’s health when first approached about providing no-show insurance for ‘This Is It’, and Trell had been involved in those discussions. The implication from the Jackson side, of course, was, if insurers were raising these concerns, why weren’t AEG likewise checking up on the singer’s health?

One email from a British insurance broker was revealed in court, in which the broker wrote: “The insurers have specifically requested information on the following: press reports [that] the artist is at various times using a wheelchair, suffering a back injury, lupus, cancer, cosmetic procedures, lung infection, emphysema, chronic gastrointestinal bleeding”.

That email had been sent just hours before Jackson died at his rented home in LA in 2009, bringing the whole ‘This Is It’ project to a halt. At that point AEG had only secured insurance for some of the singer’s O2 London residency, and was trying to convince insurers to provide a policy covering the rest.

But, Trell pointed out, that email didn’t mention Jackson’s dependency on certain prescription drugs, nor his issues with insomnia, the two things that combined to cause the late king of pop’s premature death in 2009, after Dr Conrad Murray negligently administered the anaesthetic propofol to help the singer sleep.

And when the company that had provided the initial round of insurance for ‘This Is It’, Lloyds Of London, had sent in its approved doctor to give Jackson a health check in February 2009, he’d not raised any particular concerns. Trell said that while the Lloyds appointed doctor hadn’t shared specifics about the singer’s health, because of patient confidentiality, he had told him: “Other than a slight case of hayfever, he passed with flying colours”.

Lloyds’ insurance of the ‘This Is It’ venture was subsequently subject to its own litigation, of course, though that was resolved last September.

Trell was finally allowed to stand down from the witness stand before proceedings in the Jacksons v AEG case rested for the weekend, though the live firm will remain under the spotlight when the hearing resumes later today, with AEG exec and long-term Jackson collaborator Paul Gongaware due to testify this week.