LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Testifying in trial of the negligence/wrongful death lawsuit that Michael Jackson’s family filed against AEG Live, the company’s top executive said today he believed that although the singer’s death was a tragedy, the company could still capitalize financially on his legacy.
Brandon Phillips, president and CEO of AEG Live, said merchandise opportunities centered around the planned “This Is It” concert tour, including DVD sales of rehearsal footage, supported his notion that “life must go on” in the aftermath of Jackson’s death, which he called a “terrible tragedy.”
Lawyers for 83-year-old Katherine Jackson, who filed the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit in 2010 on behalf of herself and her late son’s three children, allege that AEG Live hired Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer and failed to supervise him properly.
AEG Live attorneys maintain that Jackson hired Murray in 2006 as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during 50 concert dates at London’s O2 Arena as part of an independent contractor arrangement.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s drug overdose death and sentenced to four years in jail. The doctor gave propofol as a sleep aid to the singer, who died in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009, while rehearsing for the 50 sold-out concert dates.
In his fifth day of questioning by Jackson family attorney Brian Panish, Phillips repeated a statement he made last week that AEG Live needed a “scorecard” to keep up with the different people purporting to be Jackson’s manager during the time leading up to the scheduled July 2009 start of the “This Is It” concerts.
He said Frank Dileo and Tohme Tohme were among those who claimed to be Jackson’s manager during that time.
Panish has argued that Jackson could not have hired Murray because he had no consistent manager or lawyer in place to advise and represent him. He showed jurors emails in which one AEG Live lawyer said it was doubtful that Tohme was “the real McCoy.”
Asked by Panish to describe Jackson’s general demeanor as tour time approached, Phillips denied the 5-year-old singer was anxious and said he never mentioned having a sleeping problem.