Closing arguments end in Jackson lawsuit
AEG Live lead attorney Marvin Putnam a delivers his closing arguments in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial in Los Angeles, Wednesday Sept. 25, 2013. The singer's family has sued the entertainment firm, saying the company negligently hired and supervised Conrad Murray, the doctor who administered the dose of propofol that killed Jackson.(AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Irfan Khan, Pool)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The company producing Michael Jackson's "This Is It" comeback concerts was a money-making machine run by executives who did not care about the star's well-being, a lawyer told jurors Thursday.
Attorney Brian Panish used his rebuttal argument in the negligence case to urge the jury to find that AEG Live LLC hired Dr. Conrad Murray to be Jackson's physician without considering whether he was fit for the job.
Panish did not deny that Jackson had a role in the hiring but said the singer should be found to share only 20 percent of the blame.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid as Jackson fought chronic insomnia. Murray is in prison.
Panish ended his rebuttal before lunch and the case is expected to go to the jury later in the day.
In his speech to jurors, Panish suggested they might decide there was shared negligence in hiring Murray. If that is the verdict, he said, they should hold AEG Live as 80 percent responsible.
"Think of a bicycle built for two," he said. "Both can cause the harm."
He said Michael Jackson's liability would be for finding Murray and asking for his use as the tour doctor for his concerts. He did not blame Jackson for seeking the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid and instead cited AEG for hiring the doctor who gave it to him.
Brian Panish, attorney for the Michael Jackson family delivers his closing argument to jurors in a packed courtroom in downtown Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. Panish asked a Los Angeles jury to act as the conscience of the community and award damages for the loss of the pop star's life. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Al Seib, POOL)
"Propofol might not be the best idea," Panish said. "But if you have a competent doctor, you're not going to die."
The anesthetic is intended for use in operations at a hospital. Murray was administering it nightly in Jackson's bedroom.
Panish claimed that AEG executives such as CEO Randy Phillips and co-CEO Paul Gongaware disdained Jackson and reminded jurors of an email in which an AEG attorney referred to Jackson as "the freak."
"They're a money-making machine," Panish said. "All they care about is how much money is this freak going to make for them?
"It's not right, ladies and gentlemen," Panish said. "It would not be right to allow Gongaware and Phillips to skate down the street and click their champagne glasses at AEG Live."
Panish showed jurors details of a contract drafted by AEG but only signed by Murray. He said it proved that AEG wanted to control the doctor.