Los Angeles: Concert giant 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 in a lawsuit claiming the promoter was negligent in hiring him.
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" comeback 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 USD 150,000 a month. Murray was convicted in 2011 of administering a fatal dose of the anaesthetic propofol to Jackson.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"This doctor is extremely successful we check everyone out and he does not need this gig so he (is) totally unbiased and ethical," Phillips wrote.
Panish called Phillips` statement "a flat out lie." Outside court, AEG`s attorney Marvin S. Putnam declined comment on the email or Panish`s characterisation of it.