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“There are people behind it all”: Jacksons v AEG update

By | Published on Monday 22 July 2013

Michael Jackson

Katherine Jackson took to the witness stand on Friday as the big Jacksons v AEG Live court case continued to go through its very slow motions.

The Jackson family matriarch is the lead plaintiff in the civil lawsuit, in which she and Michael Jackson’s three children claim that the AEG concert company should be held liable for the death of the late king of pop because they, as promoters of the singer’s ill-fated ‘This Is It’ venture, hired and mismanaged Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted for causing the pop star’s death in 2009 through negligent treatment. AEG counters that Jackson himself hired and managed the medic.

Under questioning from her own lawyer Brian Panish, much of Mrs Jackson’s testimony on Friday was dedicated to a brief overview of her family’s history. Home videos punctuated the questions as Katherine told the court how the Jacksons went from being a family of very limited means to one of the most famous in the world, explaining that her children first started singing partly to relieve the boredom when they couldn’t afford to get the TV fixed.

Justifying the family biography, Panish told the court, according to CNN: “I want the jurors to just recognise that there’s people involved in this case. We’ve seen a lot of testimony about numbers and emails, but there are people behind it all”.

The questioning did turn to more recent events, however. Asked about the ‘This Is It’ project, Jackson said that she believed her son was capable of delivering the 50 London shows that AEG Live announced in the months before his death, but that she was very concerned about the timescales of the venture.

The fifty shows would have been realistic, she said, “if they had been spaced out”. She added that she had told AEG Live boss Randy Phillips of her concerns shortly after the London residency was announced. “I told him Michael can’t do those shows, you have to change the schedule” she revealed. “If they spaced them out, he could have done a million shows”.

That opinion is, in part, key to the Jackson family’s case, in that they allege AEG failed to take their most famous son’s health into account when planning ‘This Is It’, but at the same time in their damages claim they reckon that the king of pop could have netted over a billion dollars from a world tour and Vegas residency that could have followed the London shows. So they need to portray Michael as having had enough health issues that AEG should have been concerned, but not so many that the full ambitions of the ‘This Is It’ partnership could not have been realised.

Mrs Jackson admitted that she was aware that her son was at times reliant on prescription drugs, to get relief from chronic pain caused by past injuries. She said her knowledge of this was mainly third hand, via her other children, though she once challenged Michael about it directly. “He promised, he kept saying, ‘I’m OK'”, she told the jury, according to Billboard. “[But] sometimes mothers are the last to know. I told him, ‘I don’t want to hear on the news that you’re not here anymore'”.

Going on to discuss the day in 2009 when that did indeed happen, she told the court: “Everything went dark and I just started screaming”. Recalling how she had had to tell the singer’s children about their father’s death, she went on: “Paris was screaming, looking up at the sky saying ‘Daddy, I want to go with you, I can’t live without you’. Paris looked at me and asked ‘Grandma, where are we going?’ I told her ‘You’re going home with grandma'”.

After her emotional recollections under questioning from Panish, little time was left to face the questions of AEG’s lawyer Marvin Putnam, not least because the judge called a halt to the proceedings early to avoid putting two much strain on the 83 year old Jackson matriarch.

But the AEG man did have time to ask about Jackson’s motivations for bringing the lawsuit against his client. “I’ve heard a lot of stories”, the witness replied. “This trial may bring some answers. I want to know the truth, what happened to Michael”.

Katherine Jackson’s testimony will continue today, after which AEG’s defence team are expected to start calling their witnesses.

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