Friday, December 6, 2013
By Anthony McCartney / The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — A paramedic is the first witness to testify in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's mother against concert giant AEG Live.
Randy Jackson and Rebbie Jackson, background right, brother and sister of late pop star Michael Jackson, arrive at a courthouse for Katherine Jackson's lawsuit against concert giant AEG Live in Los Angeles on Monday.
The Associated Press
Paramedic Richard Senneff took the witness stand on Tuesday.
He had attempted to revive the pop star after becoming one of the first people to respond to his home in 2009.
Senneff testified twice in previous criminal proceedings against Conrad Murray, the former physician who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death.
Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, left the courtroom during the testimony.
She is suing AEG, claiming it failed to properly investigate Murray before allowing him to serve as her son's tour doctor.
AEG has denied any wrongdoing.
Michael Jackson's words and music rang through the courtroom at the start of the wrongful death trial as a lawyer tried to show jurors the pop star's loving relationship with his mother and children.
Jackson's praise for his mother brought tears to her eyes, a tender moment on Monday, when her superstar son was repeatedly called an addict by lawyers on both sides of the lawsuit.
Jurors listening to opening statements were given a brief tour of Jackson's life through photos of him with his children and videos of his performances. While Jackson's song, "You Are My Life," filled the courtroom, jurors watched footage of a Christmas morning when he gave his children a dog.
Jackson's troubles were also on prominent display, with attorneys describing his financial troubles and his struggles with prescription drug abuse.
Attorneys read emails describing the singer as unhealthy and in need of a serious intervention. A defense attorney for AEG Live at one point flashed a slide listing 45 medical professionals. He said Jackson had consulted with each of them over the years and requested doses of the powerful anesthetic propofol from some.
Jackson died in June 2009 from an overdose of propofol. A year later his mother sued AEG claiming the company failed to properly investigate a doctor who was giving it to him. Murray, the former physician, remains jailed.
Murray, AEG and Michael Jackson were part of an intricate puzzle that plaintiff's lawyer Brian Panish intends to piece together for the jury in the coming weeks. He told the panel that AEG, motivated by its desire to overtake a competitor, created a conflicted situation for Murray in which he chose a huge payday over properly caring for Jackson.
The company also ignored Murray's troubled finances and Jackson's string of health problems as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts titled "This Is It," Panish said.
"They didn't care who got lost in the wash," Panish told the jury. He repeated the adage, "the show must go on," to describe AEG's actions toward both Jackson and Murray.
Defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam countered that the company couldn't have known Jackson was using propofol or the depth of his addiction. He said Jackson hid the addiction from his family, and medical professionals were barred from telling anyone about it due to doctor-patient confidentiality.
"The truth is, Michael Jackson fooled everyone," Putnam said. "He made sure that no one – nobody – knew his deepest, darkest secrets."
He told the panel that it was Jackson who wanted Murray's treatments, and the singer ultimately was responsible for his death.
"This case is about personal choices," Putnam said. "Also, it was about his personal responsibility. There's no question that Michael Jackson's death was a terrible tragedy. I believe the evidence will show it was not a tragedy of AEG Live's making."
Panish urged the jury of six men and six women to reject placing blame on Jackson.
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