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Michael Jackson wrongful death trial: Potentially damaging emails surface

May 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
As Michael Jackson rehearsed, he was struggling with health problems, according to emails and documents presented in court Tuesday.

"Trouble on the front" wrote one AEG staffer. "MJ was sent home without setting foot on stage. He was a basket case and Kenny (the director) was concerned he would embarrass himself on stage, or worse -- get hurt. The company is rehearsing now, but doubt is pervasive."

The response from AEG CEO Randy Phillips: "We have a real problem here."

Phillips is being sued along with Paul Gongaware and Kenny Ortega. What they knew is at the crux of the lawsuit, filed by Katherine Jackson.

Jurors were shown a paper trail as Katherine Jackson's attorney questioned AEG Vice President Shawn Trell. In one email, an exec asked if substance abuse was an issue. Days later, Michael Jackson was dead after an overdose of the sedative propofol.

The plaintiffs asked Trell whether AEG had checked out Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, before hiring him, and whether they supervised him.

Trell said that AEG did not hire Murray, that the doctor was like many independent contractors, "what they do on their own time is their own business."

The plaintiffs say AEG could have intervened.

"AEG did nothing except continue to push Michael and to get the show on the road so they could make a substantial profit," said Brian Panish, Katherine Jackson's attorney.

But AEG says the doctor was Michael Jackson's choice.

"It is undisputed that Conrad Murray was Michael Jackson's long-time doctor and he wanted to bring him on tour with him," said AEG attorney Marvin Putnam.

A key document that was shown to the jury was the independent contractor agreement signed by Murray, but not by AEG or Michael Jackson.

In additional emails, an AEG accountant referred to the document as a final agreement. Yet Trell testified the agreement is a draft until all parties sign it.


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