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Michael Jackson wrongful-death trial attorneys clash

May 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
For three weeks, jurors have heard witnesses testify about Michael Jackson with rival attorneys presenting conflicting views on the performer's health and his doctor.

On Friday, the attorneys representing Katherine Jackson in the lawsuit suing AEG told Eyewitness News that the case remains clear.

"The case has always been the same," said Brian Panish, attorney for the Jackson family. "Did AEG negligently hire Dr. Murray and did they know that Michael had been having problems and failed to do something?"

Should AEG have intervened for a star dependent on medication? AEG says that's not the question.

"What the law is about is whether AEG hired Conrad Murray and whether they did so negligently," said AEG attorney Marvin Putnam.

The evidence will show, according to the defense, that Jackson had been out of the business for a decade and that Jackson needed AEG to finance his final tour.

"And so he asked AEG Live if they would basically front him the money, advance him the money so he could have various of his people come on board such as Dr. Conrad Murray," said Putnam.

AEG presented testimony from its controller saying it agreed to pay many people who were part of the tour. They, however, maintain that Jackson hired Murray as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during his "This Is It Tour."

"I would like a doctor and I want this doctor and he is the one who is going to come," said Putnam.

But did AEG formalize the relationship?

"As the CEO Randy Phillips has said shortly after Michael's death all throughout the world that AEG had hired Dr. Murray," said Panish.

The plaintiffs point to an email from Paul Gongaware, an executive of AEG Live.

"The email that Mr. Gongaware wrote clearly states that we want to remind Dr. Murray what's expected of him and that he works for us not Michael Jackson and that we're the ones paying him," said Panish.

The Jackson camp alleges that AEG pushed Jackson to extreme measures to alleviate his insomnia. Jackson was rehearsing for 50 sold-out concerts in London at the time of his death at age 50 on June 25, 2009.

Both sides say there is much more to come. This is only the third week of a trial set to last four months.

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