Opening statements begin in civil trial in wrongful death suit brought by Michael Jackson's family against AEG Live.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (APRIL 29, 2013) (REUTERS) - Concert promoters AEG Live played a key role in the sudden 2009 death of Michael Jackson, although many other people, including the actions of Jackson himself, contributed to his demise, an attorney for Jackson's family told a Los Angeles jury on Monday (April 29).
Making his opening statement in what is expected to be an emotional, three-month long civil wrongful death trial, attorney Brian Panish said that Jackson's death from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol was caused by a combination of factors.
The "Thriller" singer's mother Katherine is suing privately-held AEG Live, the promoters of the never-realized series of London concerts, for negligence in the hiring of Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted in 2011 for the involuntary manslaughter of Jackson.
Murray was caring for Jackson as he rehearsed in Los Angeles for the series of 50 "This is It" shows in London that were due to start in July 2009.
Panish played a clip of the rehearsal footage for jurors on Monday that was taken from the posthumous concert film "This is It."
Katherine Jackson, 82, along with her children Randy and Rebbie, were among family members attending Monday's packed opening of the trial. Jackson's three children, who could be called as witnesses later, were not there.
Jackson, 50, drowning in debt and seeking to rebuild a reputation damaged by his 2005 trial and acquittal on child molestation charges, died in Los Angeles of an overdose of the powerful surgical anesthetic propofol and a cocktail of other sedatives in June 2009.
AEG Live contends that it did not hire or supervise Murray and claims that Jackson had prescription drug problems for years before entering into any agreement for theLondon concerts.
The concert promoters also argue that they could not have foreseen that Murray posed a danger to Jackson.
Attorneys for AEG Live will make their opening statements later on Monday.
Katherine Jackson and her son's three children are seeking some $40 billion in damages from AEG Live for loss of the singer's earnings and other damages.
AEG Live has argued in court papers that the figure is absurd because Jackson's career was in a downward spiral at the time of his death. The final amount will be determined by the jury should it hold AEG Live liable for negligence.