The promoters for Michael Jackson's 2009 comeback tour had an obligation to thoroughly vet the doctor who treated the King of Pop and failed to do so, an attorney for Jackson's mother told a Los Angeles jury today.
"[Michael Jackson's] stirring voice, his musical genius, his creativity and his generosity and his huge heart was extinguished forever," Katherine Jackson's attorney Brian Panish said in his opening statements of the family's wrongful death lawsuit against AEG Live.
"You're going to hear the whole story about what happened in the death of Michael Jackson," Panish said.
Katherine Jackson is suing AEG Live, the promoter of Michael Jackson's 2009 "This Is It" comeback tour, claiming the concert giant should have properly investigated Dr. Conrad Murray, the man convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death, before agreeing to pay his $150,000-per-month salary.
The Jackson family claims that AEG Live "committed negligence against Jackson" by requiring him to be treated only by the doctor AEG hired, Murray.
Murray was found guilty of the involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for giving Jackson a fatal dose of propofol. He is currently serving four years in prison for his role in the pop superstar's death and is appealing his conviction.
AEG denies they hired Murray and said he was an independent contractor hired by Jackson. In their opening statements, the company's lawyers also said company officials could not have foreseen
The case is expected to delve into the highly guarded personal life of Jackson, who died at age 50 four years ago, and provide the most in-depth details of the superstar's final days.
In front of a packed courtroom, Panish showed the jury multiple slides detailing Michael Jackson's relationship with AEG Live and Murray. Panish alleged that AEG Live was so concerned with getting Jackson to perform his comeback tour that "they didn't care who got lost in the wash."
He told jurors Jackson had prescription drug abuse issues, which his family and "people who knew him" were aware of, but said AEG Live executives will claim they had no knowledge of Jackson's addiction. He also said that he will present evidence that shows Murray stockpiled propofol in anticipation of treating Jackson for the upcoming tour.
Katherine Jackson, her daughter Rebbie and son Randy Jackson sat in the front row of the courtroom, as Jackson fans and media thronged the hallways and the areas outside the courthouse.
Unlike Murray's trial, which was broadcast live, the civil case will play out without cameras in a Los Angeles courtroom with only 45 public seats.
The trial is expected to include detailed testimony about other doctors' treatment of Jackson, a subject that was largely off-limits in the criminal case.
"I think this case is important because in the Conrad Murray case, I think everyone believes we got part of the story of Michael Jackson. This trial is important because we will get the rest of the story," HLN anchor Vinnie Politan told ABC News.
A who's who of Hollywood is lining up to support the Jackson Family. The expected star-studded witness list includes Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Lou Ferrigno and Spike Lee. Both of Jackson's ex-wives, Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe, are listed as potential witnesses.
In recent days, Rowe, the biological mother of Jackson's two eldest kids -- Prince, 16, and Paris, 15 -- has been photographed spending time with her daughter.
Prince and Paris are expected to testify about their father's final days leading up to his 2009 overdose death. Their testimony is expected to be the emotional tipping point of the trial as they can give a rare glimpse inside their once-secret world with their famous father.
The jury, made up of six men and six women, will hear agruments that are expected to last into the summer to decide if AEG is liable for damages. Attorneys for the Jackson family denied media reports that they are seeking $40 billion in damages. However, damages might run into the billions if AEG Live is found liable.
"Michael Jackson -- the biggest star in the world-- you're talking about what his life was worth from the point that he died, forward, how much could he have made," Politan said.
ABC's David Wright and Natasha Singh contributed to this report
- Arts & Entertainment
- Michael Jackson
- Katherine Jackson
- AEG Live