Michael Jackson’s mother and three children are moving forward with a multi-billion lawsuit against AEG Live, the promoter of the singer’s ill-fated “This Is It” comeback show in London in 2009, for wrongful death. The case will go to jury trial next month.
Jackson’s physician, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaugther for Jackson’s overdose on propofol in 2011, but the lawsuit alleges that AEG Live pressured him into forcing Jackson to rehearse for the show despite evidence of exhaustion.
According to CNN, an e-mail exchange between AEG Live co-CEO Paul Gongaware and “This Is It” show director Kenny Ortega that surfaced this week implies that the two may have pressured Jackson’s physician at the risk of losing his $150,000-a-month job. “We want to remind [Murray] that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him,” read one of the emails from Gongaware. Additional emails between AEG officials have also come forward, including an exchange between AEG Live president Randy Phillips and Ortega that observes, “It is like there are two people in there. One (deep inside) trying to hold on to what he was and still can be and not wanting us to quit him, the other in this weakened and troubled state. I believe we need professional guidance in this matter.”
“Now that the court has ruled that there is evidence that it was foreseeable that AEG’s actions resulted in Michael Jackson’s death, the Jackson family feels vindicated from the public smear campaign that AEG has waged against them,” said the Jacksons’ lawyer, Kevin Boyle. “The truth about what happened to Michael, which AEG has tried to keep hidden from the public since the day Michael died, is finally emerging. We look forward to the trial where the rest of the story will come to light.”