Jackson Wrongful Death Trial: Deliberations Begin

 

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By: Dana Brenklin

September 26, 2013

 

After five months of testimony, over 50 witnesses and a countless number of doctors, the fate of Mrs. Jackson, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., Paris Katherine Michael Jackson, Prince Michael “Blanket” Jackson and AEG Lives’ Lives lie in the hands of 12 people that no one knew of five months ago. 

 

Thursday afternoon a Los Angeles Judge gave her final instructions and handed the case over to the jury.

 

Brian Panish, Katherine Jackson’s lawyer gave his rebuttal to the defense’s final closing arguments before the jury was given the case.  Panish told the jury that Michael was pushed into doing 50 dates for his London comeback tour and that AEG hired Conrad Murray

 

The king of pop’s mother Katherine Jackson and Michael’s three children are suing AEG Live, arguing that the concert promoters negligently hired, supervised or retained Conrad Murray and are liable in the drug overdose of Michael Jackson.

 

Murray was convicted in 2011 for the death of Michael Jackson and plaintiff’s Brian Panish says that Michael Jackson paid for his hand in this with his life, Murray paid and AEG doesn’t want to take responsibility for their part. 

 

Panish responded to Putnam’s closing argument that all AEG “wanted to do was put on a concert”, telling the jury that AEG didn’t care about Michael Jackson, “they are a money making machine” and that is all they wanted to do, put on a concert. 

 

Mr. Panish responded to Putnam telling the jury to watch “This Is It” by saying, who made the move, AEG.  Panish reminded the jury of the email between two AEG executives, (one of whom is the head counsel for AEG Live) which has one referring to Michael Jackson as a freak and the other saying it was creepy that he was going to meet him the next day, telling them, this is how they refer to people they are going to make millions of dollars off of. 

 

Mr. Panish showed pictures of three key executives of AEG, who for the most part could not recall and told them not to believe a word they said.  “How dare they come up here and accept no responsibility and blame it all on Michael” Panish said in his rebuttal. 

 

Panish also said in his rebuttal that they have always accepted their share and that Michael’s share is 20% and that 80% of the blame should belong to AEG Live. 

 

Mr. Panish said that Michael did have a problem with Demerol and did have a sleep problem and he was charged years ago, but what does that have to do with this trial.  He referred to AEG as big bad AEG and said if I have an army of lawyers, they have the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, referring to Putman’s closing arguments.  Michael Jackson was found not guilty of the crimes he was charged with and acquitted.  

 

Michael Jackson did use Propofol before 2009, but he didn’t die until Conrad Murray negotiated a contract with AEG Live, Jackson attorney said. 

 

The case has gone to the jury and they deliberated for two hours Thursday afternoon and will be back for a full day of deliberations Friday Morning at 9:30am. 

 

Mrs. Jackson was seen greeting fans with hugs, smiles and tears after court.  Rebbie Jackson, Taj Jackson and TJ Jackson were all in attendance. 

 

If AEG is found liable for the death of the king of pop, Mrs. Jackson and her grandchildren could be awarded as much as 1.5 billion dollars. 

 

 

 

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Jackson Wrongful Death Trial: AEG Lawyer’s Closing Arguments

Debbie Rowe

By: Dana Brenklin

September 25, 2013

 

Wednesday September 25, 2013 was the last time the jury would ever hear from AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam as he gave his closing arguments defending the Concert Promoters against a lawsuit filed by the king of pop’s mother Mrs. Katherine Jackson

 

As Putnam took the stand with everyone wondering how he would follow the plaintiff’s closing and with Jackson Matriarch along with eldest daughter Rebbie Jackson and grandsons Taj and TJ looking on, he starts off in the same fashion, thanking the jury and the judge for their time. 

 

Immediately Mr. Putnam starts in with, in his bedroom behind locked doors the plaintiffs want you to think the concert promoters are at fault.

 

He says to think about all the things you’ve heard and tells the jury that Michael Jackson had been seeing Dr. Murray for years and he said this repeatedly during his closing.  Michael Jackson saw Murray for about seven years off and on before he died. 

 

He also tells the jury that Michael Jackson was a grown man several times and that he was responsible for his own health.  He mistakenly says in the beginning that Michael was a grown man about to turn 50, he was actually already 50 and about to turn 51. 

 

Putnam said that it is a tragedy what happened to Michael Jackson, but it was not AEG’s fault and Michael was playing Russian roulette by taking propofol nightly. 

 

Putnam told the jury in closing that Jackson did not ask to bring the doctor, he told them he was bringing the doctor on his tour.

 

Putnam says that Michael Jackson was nearly half a billion dollars in debt and Michael Jackson spent decades doctor shopping for pain killers.  At the beginning of the trial Putnam said he would show deep and ugly secrets of Michael Jackson, but the only thing that really came out that nobody knew of, was that Michael had a legitimate issue with pain and sleep. 

 

Brian Panish has never said that Michael didn’t have a problem with pain killers or that Jackson searched for something that he thought would help him sleep, so he said yesterday that Michael had some responsibility for his own death, but today AEG’s lead attorney said that Michael Jackson was totally at fault and AEG had nothing to do with his demise and a grown man is responsible for his own health. 

 

Putnam said that AEG knew nothing that went on behind locked doors of the Carolwood home Michael Jackson was occupying and Michael hired Dr. Conrad Murray a long time ago.

 

Putnam says that it would have happened with or without AEG, even though Jackson lawyer said yesterday that it never happened before a contract and money was involved.  Jackson lawyer said yesterday that the king of pop had propofol to sleep in Germany years ago and with Dr. Conrad Murray, but he didn’t die until money and a contract was involved. 

 

AEG’s lawyer told the jury that the damages plaintiffs are seeking is absurd as he went through the jury instructions saying that Panish stopped at number one while telling them everything from 1-5 needs to be answered “no”, which is of course is opposite of the “yes” Panish told them it had to be for their side to win yesterday. 

 

He says that AEG tried to talk Michael out of bringing the doctor, but he insisted, saying he would not take no for an answer. 

 

When it came time to deal with the negligence issue, Putnam says that Michael and Conrad Murray were secretive and all AEG knew was that Murray was his longtime doctor. 

 

Putnam told the jury several times that AEG Live executives could not have known what was going on between the doctor and Michael Jackson behind locked bedroom doors

 

Putnam says that Murray had several practices, never had a malpractice, and never had a suspension of his license and that Michael trusted him with his ownchildren

 

AEG’s attorney says that Michael and Murray lied to his clients, saying that Michael was alright.  He also showed the jury Michael rehearsing two nights and one night before he died from the “This Is It” documentary, to which loyal fans say he did not look great and was too thin

 

Plaintiff’s Brian Panish will have the final word, giving his rebuttal tomorrow.  The jury will be handed a few final instructions and by tomorrow afternoon should be heading to deliberations. 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Katherine Jackson To Be Called Back To Testify

Debbie Rowe

By: Dana Brenklin

September 11, 2013

Although the jury was not present today and hasn’t been all week as one of them has had a family emergency, there were still fireworks in the case of Jackson VS AEG Live in a downtown courtroom today.  Very few members of the media were present, but attorneys fighting for AEG and Mrs Jackson were ready to rumble when court began today.

They argued several motions Monday and said they would not convene until today.  As the day started off Superior court Judge Yvette Palazuelos called off all of the issues that were to be discussed in this 5 month long trial that is very close to ending. 

The lawyers started with damages and how to award damages, who was at fault and more.  Defense’s Marvin Putnam said he will question Mrs. Jackson about the ridiculous amount of damages she wants the jury to award if they find AEG at fault, against the judges’ best advice.  The Judge says he can question her, but he is not to refer to a statement of damages letter sent to him by Mrs. Jackson’s attorney.

Plaintiff’s Deborah Chang said it was very difficult assessing what Michael Jackson would have made had he not died in June of 2009.  When discussing the non economic damages Chang spoke of Paris Jackson, Michael’s daughter who attempted suicide earlier this year and said the damages could be enormous given what happened to Paris.

Katherine Jackson testified earlier this year, saying she wanted to know what really happened to her son.  Mrs. Jackson will be the final witness in the defense’s case. 

The defense still plans to rest their case next week.  Plaintiff’s counsel plans to call at least 5 rebuttal witnesses.  Closing arguments are expected as early as next week.

If AEG is found liable the jury could award damages based on money that Michael would have made and based on the children and Mrs. Jackson’s loss of support. 

The trial continues.

Judge Dismisses Two AEG Live Executives In Jackson Lawsuit

By: Dana Brenklin

Sept 9, 2013

Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos dismissed AEG executives Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware from a negligence lawsuit filed by Katherine Jackson, mother of pop star Michael Jackson, however she has allowed the case against AEG Live, LLC to continue on its course.

The Los Angeles judge said that plaintiffs had not shown enough evidence to say that two executives Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware were responsible for Michael Jackson’s death.  The jury will decide whether or not AEG Live hired Dr. Conrad Murray, who is currently serving a four year manslaughter sentence for giving the pop star a lethal dose of the anesthetic Propofol.

With two of the defendants out and the main party still in, this could make deliberations a lot easier for the jury.

Plaintiff’s attorneys have blamed Phillips and Gongaware for the last 5 months of ignoring signs and red flags of Michael Jackson’s failing health.  AEG attorneys deny any wrong doings.

AEG Live attorneys argued this morning that Katherine Jackson’s lawyers have not proven their case, with defense’s Marvin Putnam saying that it would be inappropriate to hand this over to a jury.

The lawsuit will continue against AEG Live, LLC and the defense still plans to rest next week.  Mrs. Jackson’s lawyers say they have at least 5 rebuttal witnesses.

This may or may not be the end of Randy Phillips’ and Paul Gongaware’s troubles.  If Mrs. Jackson wins her lawsuit, depending on how much money is dished out, Anschutz Entertainment Group’s Phillip Anschutz could go after the very two who were dropped from the lawsuit today.  They are by no means in the clear.

On another note, jurors are not expected back until next Monday.  Due to a family emergency with one of the jurors.  There will be no testimony this week and both parties will work on witness scheduling, motions and arguments this week.  Defense’s Putnam says they may call Katherine Jackson back to the stand next week.

Closing arguments are expected next week.  The trial continues.

Recovering Drug Addicted Dr. Gives Michael Jackson “Grave Prognosis”

 

Mrs. Jackson was not in attendance today as she has been absent during most of the defense’s Case.  Today addiction medicine specialist Dr. Paul Henry Early took to the stand for a second day of questioning. 

 

Wednesday addiction specialist and recovering heroin addict Dr. Early’s credibility was severely scrutinized by plaintiff’s Kevin Boyle, after saying yesterday that Michael had been playing Russian roulette with each dose of propofol he was given by his doctor back in 2009.

 

Early was questioned about two blogs he wrote, one, just weeks after Jackson’s death and the other one after Conrad Murray was convicted of manslaughter for the death of the King of Pop.  “Michael Jackson: Addiction and The Privileged” and “Murray Convicted – Addiction Wins”.  The witness says that he did not mean that Michael was addicted, he just wanted to shed some light on the subject and that if he died from a propofol overdose that it would not be a far stretch to say that he was addicted.   The doctor was questioned about guidelines and ethics about diagnosing people in the public eye.   He said he was following the guidelines and did not break any rules.

 

This is not all the doctor came under fire for.  The doctor says that AEG Live, LLC funded his research on propofol with $53,000, which plaintiffs say created a conflict of interest and they also cite and bring to the court’s attention again, a code of ethics.  Boyle says that the instructions are that he is to add in the research article who funded his research and that it is supposed to be on the title page and the witnesses recognition of AEG Live shows up on the 7th page of his article.  The witness says that he was not trying to hide anything, he followed the guidelines and has no say so on how it is formatted once he submits the article.

 

Wait, that is not all.  Dr. Early was also asked about his drug addiction.  Yes, drug addiction.  The doctor has an opioid addiction and says that he has used that experience in rendering an opinion in this case, but the doctor was not addicted to pain killers.  The doctors drugs of choice were Oxycodone and the street drug heroin.  The doctor he collaborated with on the research for the article that AEG Live, LLC funded was also a drug addict, lost his license, was convicted of a felony and this was not told by the witness until he said that his partner was in between jobs and plaintiff’s counsel Kevin Boyle dug a little deeper. The witness says he has since earned his license back and is practicing on a probationary status.

 

Closing arguments should be heard by the week of September 23rd and the jury learned this week that they may be partially sequestered during deliberations.  The defense plans to end early and plaintiff’s counsel Brian Panish says they have a few rebuttal witnesses that should take about three days. 

 

The trial continues

 Dana Brenklin

Michael Jackson’s Fight For Sleep

 

 

 

 

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Holistic Dr. Cherilyn Lee 

 

By Dana Brenklin

 

As fans gathered all over the world to celebrate the king of pop’s birthday, Katherine Jackson and various family members jetted off to his birthplace and the trial continued with Dr. Cherilyn Lee offering a second day of testimony.  As the witness took the stand she apologized for expressing her emotions the previous day.

 

Defense’s Kathy Cahan continued with her direct examination of the witness.  Lee continues where she left off yesterday, saying she showed Michael Jackson her PDR (physicians desk reference), after he asked her to help him sleep with propofol.  She says that she warned him of the side effects, such as memory loss, saying what if you forget your lyrics to a song?

 

He was very adamant about propofol (calling it Diprivan) being the only thing that could help him sleep.  He told her that he understood, but doctors told him that it was safe.  When she asked what doctors told him that, he did not give her an answer, he just tried to assure her that it was safe. 

 

Lee told Michael she understood his need for sleep, but told him the bottom line was death and that he might not wake up, but he was persistent. 

 

As testimony went on, Dr. Lee told the jury that Michael had originally agreed to go about this the natural way and they had a plan.  He complained of fatigue in the beginning and she started him on a natural IV, he changed his diet and he was feeling better she said of the first few months treating the king of Pop.

 

The witness testified to giving Michael something called a Myers cocktail which consist of vitamins to get him to sleep, Jackson said it would not work, but agreed to have it.  Jackson slept for a few hours and woke up to what Lee describes as strange, he stood on the bed when he awoke, saying “I told you I could not sleep all night” and then ran to the bathroom.  Lee says that she saw rapid eye movement as he was sleeping, but Michael was still agitated once he woke up.   Jackson escorted her out early that morning and she never saw him again, however she did hear from him inadvertently four days before he died, saying that the king of pop sounded frightened and complained of feeling cold on one side and hot on the other.  Lee heard Michael in the background as one of the members of his security team called Lee to get help for him.  Cherilyn was out of town at the time and was not able to see him.  She planned on seeing him again the day he died. 

 

Lee testified as everyone else has, that Michael was a wonderful father to his children and had a strict regimen for bed times and school work.  Michael told her that he wanted to heal the world with his music the way she does with her practice and she says that he had a heart of forgiveness, which is something she teaches her patients.

 

The witness could be somewhat long winded at times voicing her opinions, like telling the jury that she was broken hearted when she heard the press saying that Jackson was Dr. shopping, saying that if she was looking for a thorough doctor or dentist she would be Dr. shopping too.

 

On cross examination the witness was asked if Jackson was happy about the tour, to which she says yes, but when asked, she offers that he was not as jovial when he returned from the “This Is It” press conference in London.  Lee says once home, Jackson was not as happy, seemed pressured and quiet.

 

Dr. Lee says that his weight was fine from Jan – April of 2009, the months that she treated Michael and she did not see any signs of another Dr. treating him.  When the witness was shown  the most famous picture of the trial, which show a skeletal Jackson, the witness nearly screams In horror, asking if that is Jackson. She says she would have been shocked if he looked like that the last time she saw him. 

 

Cherilyn says she has no idea what caused Michael to deviate from the holistic plan they had designed for him.  He was feeling good, he changed chefs, he wasn’t drinking red bull as he had been, his diet was better and after a meeting at the house and the press conference, he became agitated and anxious and desperate for sleep. 

 

Michael trusted the doctors and was told that diprivan/propofol was safe as long as he was monitored.  Michael died of acute propofol intoxication June 25, 2009. 

The plaintiffs’ motion to amend their case was heard this afternoon.  Deborah Chang argued her point unsuccessfully and the plaintiffs’ motion was declined.

 

The Struggles of A King

By: Dana Brenklin

On the 76th day of testimony and the day before the King of Pop would have officially been a senior citizen, testimony in the Katherine Jackson VS AEG Live trial continues without the presence of the star’s mother or any other family members.

Today was the second day defense’s witness Dr. Petros Levounis spent testifying.  The witness has been called as a drug addiction specialist and gave the opinion that even though Michael only used pain killers and numerous witnesses have testified to Michael never soliciting drugs for euphoria, that he was  an addict.  Standing by his opinion he even acknowledged that there was no evidence that he used more pain killers than he needed.

The witness testified to Michael Jackson being secretive about his drug use.  Plaintiff’s counsel Mr. Koskoff tells the witness that Michael Jackson told the world about his problem with prescription drugs, to which the witness responds, “at that moment He was not secretive” and the witness says to Kathy Cahan during his redirect examination that he was indeed secretive and there was just the one instance where he was not secretive.

Michael’s problem with Opioids, pain killers stemmed from first, second and third degree burns he sustained in the Pepsi commercial accident.  Jackson was given these pain killers after the surgeries to repair his scalp and sometimes after cosmetic surgery.

When asked, the doctor agrees that there was no evidence of Michael having used drugs after his stint in rehab in 1993 until 2001.  The doctor says that Michael was an addict until he died and he was addicted to Demerol, however the coroner did not find any Demerol in Jackson’s system and he died of acute propofol intoxication.

The witness was asked if he had taken into consideration any of the doctor’s testimony he reviewed and if he had considered the coroners report.  The witness says that he reviewed the testimony of several witnesses, but still says that Jackson suffered a “quite extensive” drug addiction.

Lawyers for AEG want to prove that their clients knew nothing about Michael Jackson’s drug use and that he was very secretive and they are not liable for the acts of Dr. Murray.  AEG also argues that Jackson caused his own death.

Lawyers for Katherine Jackson contend that AEG is responsible for  the negligent hiring of Dr. Conrad Murray who used the deadly anesthetic propofol to treat Jackson’s insomnia while he prepared for the “This Is It” shows and are partly responsible for his early demise.

After lunch Dr. Cherilyn Lee was called to the stand.  She is a holistic nurse practitioner and also holds a Ph.D.

She gave very little testimony, as she was called at the end of the day.  She was able to tell the jury that Jackson trusted Doctors and told her repeatedly that doctors told him propofol was safe as long as he was being monitored, when she told him not to use the drug for sleep.

The witness broke down at the end of the day, saying that her mother died in 2010 because she listened to the doctors. Ms. Lee is due back in court tomorrow morning.

Plaintiffs want to amend their case and that argument will be heard tomorrow afternoon.