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“He wanted to redeem Michael Jackson”: Jacksons v AEG update

By | Published on Thursday 19 September 2013

Michael Jackson

And so the case for the defence rests. Lawyers for AEG Live presented their final arguments yesterday in the long running Jacksons v AEG court case. The Jackson family, of course, want the live firm held liable for the 2009 death of Michael Jackson, because, as promoter of the singer’s ‘This Is It’ venture, it paid Dr Conrad Murray, the medic convicted for causing the late king of pop’s demise through negligent treatment. AEG counters that Jackson himself hired and managed Murray.

Having decided not to call Jackson’s mother Katherine, the main plaintiff in the case, back to the witness stand, Team AEG instead wrapped things up by showing a video of a testimony by Dr Allan Metzger. He provided healthcare to Jackson for a number of years earlier in his career, and had reconnected with the star just a few months before his untimely death. For AEG there were two key elements to Metzger’s deposition: Jackson’s tendency to keep secrets about his medical treatments, and his state of mind regarding ‘This Is It’.

After paying tribute to Jackson – “a wonderful, generous person” – Metzger said that, when he spoke to the singer in early 2009, he was excited if nervous about the then planned ‘This Is It’ London residency. And while some have suggested that Jackson was bullied into ‘This Is It’, or certainly into agreeing to a residency of that scale, with AEG exploiting his precarious financial position, Metzger says the singer actually saw the project as an opportunity to repair his reputation as an artist, which had never really recovered from the child abuse trial of 2005.

According to Billboard, Metzger said in his deposition: “He wanted to redeem Michael Jackson. He wanted to redeem his image. He felt this was it and he wanted to go out with a flash. He was still terribly hurt about the trial and the accusations”.

Jackson did raise some fears about the health implications of the project, Metzger admitted, including issues with sleeping. The doctor said he told Jackson he could recommend some sleep therapists in London, but that the singer didn’t seem interested. Jackson then raised the possibility of intravenous sleep medication, though not specifically propofol, the drug that caused the singer’s death. Metzger advised against such a route.

There was no mention of Murray in the conversation, Metzger added, but he said that Jackson was often secretive about any treatment he was receiving; even when talking to one doctor, he wouldn’t reveal conversations had or treatments received from other medics. Jackson was also prone, Metzger reckoned, to so called “doctor shopping”.

AEG will be hoping that Metzger’s testimony convinces the jury that it is most likely that Jackson himself pressured Murray into pursuing dangerous treatments, and that the use of Propofol was not the inadvertent result of pressure put on the medic by the live company. They also want the jury to know how secretive Jackson could be about his health, in a bid to convince jurors that – while with hindsight there were clues to the risky treatment the singer was receiving in the weeks before his death – it would have been hard for AEG to pick up on any of them.

Lawyers for the Jacksons are now expected to deliver a rebuttal to the AEG defence, with the jury finally due to begin deliberations next week.

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