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Fri Oct 31 19:55:51 SAST 2014

Michael Jackson's wrongful death trial date set

Sapa-dpa | 05 March, 2013 08:41
Dr. Conrad Murray is shown in this undated publicity photograph. File photo
Image by: HANDOUT / REUTERS

A wrongful death suit against the promoter of Michael Jackson’s ill-fated comeback tour is set to go to trial in April after a judge rejected a motion to dismiss, CNN reported Monday.

Jackson’s mother, Katherine, and his three children, accuse the promoter, AEG Live, of pressuring Jackson doctor Conrad Murray to disregard medical procedures to ensure that the frail Jackson could attend rehearsals ahead of the planned This is It comeback tour in 2009.

Jackson died in June 2009 from a heart attack, after Murray injected him with the hospital anesthetic propofil as a sleep aid.

According to the CNN report, the judge ruled that the Jackson family had show enough evidence that AEG Live employed and supervised Murray to warrant a jury trial that will begin on April 2.

“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,” Jackson lawyer Kevin Boyle said.

“We look forward to the trial, where the rest of the story will come to light.”  Legal analysts said that Jackson’s family will ask AEG Live to pay damages amounting to all the earnings Jackson could have been expected to make during the rest of his lifetime, potentially amounting to billions of dollars.

While AEG Live contends that it bears no responsibility because Murray was Jackson’s personal doctor, Jackson’s lawyers maintain that several “smoking gun” emails prove that the company was in control of the doctor, who is currently serving a four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

In one e-mail to show director Kenny Ortega 11 days before Jackson’s death, AEG Live co-chief executive Paul Gongaware allegedly wrote: “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.”  Murray was deeply in debt at the time and was earning $150 000 a month to care for Jackson.

“This doctor is extremely successful (we check everyone out) and does not need this gig, so he is totally unbiased and ethical,” AEG Live president Randy Phillips was quoted as saying in another email.

The concert company has denied being responsible for Jackson’s death. AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam said last year that the company “did not hire Dr Murray, nor were they responsible for the death of Michael Jackson.”

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