Michael Jackson doctor disturbed by AEG cancellation clause

BILL HETHERMAN, City News Service
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March 5, 2009 photo of Michael Jackson as he makes an announcement about upcoming performances at the London O2 Arena. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)

March 5, 2009 photo of Michael Jackson as he makes an announcement about upcoming performances at the London O2 Arena. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A physician who treated Michael Jackson for general medical issues testified today that he believed AEG Live’s contract with Dr. Conrad Murray to be the singer’s personal physician on the never-realized “This Is It” tour created a conflict of interest for the cardiologist.

Dr. Allan Metzger said he was particularly disturbed by a cancellation clause in the contract that allowed AEG Live to terminate the agreement if the tour could not go forward.

“This to me is unethical,” Metzger said.

Metzger’s live testimony came a day after his video deposition was shown to jurors in trial of the negligence and wrongful death lawsuit that Katherine Jackson filed in September 2010 against the “This Is It” tour promoter on behalf of herself and her late son’s three children.

The plaintiffs allege that AEG Live hired 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 sold-out 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 June 25, 2009, drug overdose death and sentenced to four years in jail. The doctor intravenously administered the anesthetic propofol to the 50-year-old singer, who was living in a rented Holmby Hills home while rehearsing for the tour.

Judge Yvette Palazuelos allowed attorneys for the Jackson family to re- open their case on a limited basis, using Metzger’s live testimony to bolster some of their theories. Metzger is a dermatologist who said he treated Jackson for nearly 30 years and considered him a friend as well as a patient.

Although AEG Live lawyers presented testimony claiming Jackson “shopped” for doctors in order to obtain access to propofol and other prescription drugs, Metzger said the only examples he saw occurred when the singer was on tour and had to look for physicians in locations outside Los Angeles.

However, he said he was concerned whether Jackson was getting medication that was safe from other doctors.

Metzger said Jackson never asked him about access to propofol or any other strong prescription medications.

“I don’t believe I ever gave him (the pain medication) Demerol or any hard narcotics ever,” he said.

The doctor testified he also never remembered Jackson appearing over- medicated.

“I did not every see him overtly intoxicated from drug medication,” he said.

Metzger said Jackson had sleep problems during the “Dangerous” and “HIStory” tours in the 1990s. He said Jackson was upset because of his insomnia.

“He was very frustrated and felt he was not performing to his normal capabilities,” Metzger said.

Metzger testified he accompanied Jackson on the first leg of the “HIStory tour” and said he considered himself fortunate to be back stage during the Sydney, Australia concerts.

Throughout Metzger’s testimony, Jackson family attorney Deborah Chang played clips of some of Jackson’s hits, including “Earth Song” and “Heal the World,” as well as the singer’s collaboration with other artists in making the “We Are the World” video.

The doctor said Jackson used his music to try to make the world a better place, especially for the children and those in poverty worldwide.

Metzger said Jackson was beset by pain for many years, including the effects of burns from an accident involving fireworks during filming of a 1984 Pepsi commercial. But he said that as late as two months before his death, Jackson never requested any opioids from him as he prepared for the “This Is It” tour.

Metzger said the prospect of doing 50 shows was “weighing heavily” on Jackson at the time.

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