Lawyer: No background check done on Jackson doctor
FILE - In this March 5, 2009 file photo, Michael Jackson announces several concerts at the London O2 Arena in July, at a press conference at the London O2 Arena. An AEG Live accounting executive testified Monday, May 20, 2013, in a Los Angeles courtroom that the company spent $24 million on preparations for Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” shows, however never paid the singer’s personal doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter because a fully-signed agreement was never obtained. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, file)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — AEG Live LLC did not conduct any background checks or supervise the doctor who was later convicted of killing Michael Jackson, a corporate attorney testified Tuesday in a lawsuit claiming the concert promoter was negligent in hiring the physician.
AEG Live General Counsel Shawn Trell told jurors that no legal or financial checks were done involving Conrad Murray or anyone else who worked as an independent contractor on the "This Is It" shows.
Jackson's mother Katherine is suing AEG claiming it failed to properly investigate Murray, who was deeply in debt when he agreed to serve as Jackson's tour physician in 2009 for $150,000 a month.
Trell said he thought a background check would be appropriate for people working in financial roles, but not tour personnel who weren't employees of AEG.
Murray's employment status is a central issue in the case. Katherine Jackson's lawyers contend he was hired by AEG, but the company denies it hired him and notes the singer died before signing the doctor's contract.
Trell also acknowledged while testifying that numerous people in the company knew of concerns that Jackson's health was declining.
Five days before Jackson died, AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips alerted the promoter's parent company that Jackson had missed a rehearsal and didn't appear to be ready for his comeback concerts.
"We have a real problem here," Phillips wrote in the message to the CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group.
Trell agreed with a statement by plaintiff's attorney Brian Panish that company executives knew by then there was a "deep issue" with Jackson.
Trell also said he continued discussions with an insurance broker about additional coverage to recoup AEG Live's investment if the tour had to be canceled.
Hours after Phillips sent the warning email, attorney John Branca, who later became co-executor of Jackson's estate, offered to enlist a spiritual and substance abuse specialist to help Jackson, according to an email shown in court.
FILE - In this June 23, 2009 handout photo provided by AEG, pop star Michael Jackson rehearses at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. An AEG Live accounting executive testified Monday, May 20, 2013, in a Los Angeles courtroom that the company spent $24 million on preparations for Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” shows, however never paid the singer’s personal doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter because a fully-signed agreement was never obtained. (AP Photo/ Kevin Mazur, AEG/Getty Images, File) ** NO SALES, ARCHIVE OUT. MANDATORY CREDIT **
On that same day, Phillips and others met with Jackson and Murray at the singer's home.
Hours later, Phillips sent an email to tour director Kenny Ortega telling him not to worry. Ortega had expressed grave concerns about Jackson.