Update: Jackson Vs AEG Live Lawsuit

Michael Jackson’s mother filed a five-count lawsuit against AEG Live and others in Los Angeles Superior Court Sept. 15, alleging the would-be promoter of the “This Is It” concert residency failed to provide necessary medical equipment and oversight of attending physician Conrad Murray during MJ’s last days.

Katherine Jackson contends in the suit, which asks for unspecified actual and punitive damages on behalf of herself and her son’s three children, that AEG Live breached its duty to her son by “putting its desire for massive profits from the Tour over the health and safety of Michael Jackson.”

Photo: AP Photo
Announcing he is set to play ten live concerts at the London O2 Arena

In addition to breach of contract and fraud accusations, the suit includes a charge of negligent infliction of emotional distress on behalf of “Prince” Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., the eldest of MJ’s three children. The suit claims that “during the course of Michael Jackson being injured and dying, his son … witnessed his father suffering, and accordingly has suffered great trauma and severe emotional distress.”

In addition to AEG Live and Anschutz Entertainment Group, the complaint names co-CEOs Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware, AEG President Tim Leiweke and “This Is It” director Kenny Ortega as defendants. Katherine’s husband, Joe Jackson, and the Michael Jackson Estate are cited as “nominal” parties to the suit.

“The lawsuit is inaccurate, unsubstantiated and meritless,” partner Marvin Putnam of O’Melveny & Myers, representing the defendants, said in a statement. “Dr. Murray was Mr. Jackson’s longtime personal physician. AEG did not choose him, hire him or supervise him. That said, and in honor of our professional relationship with Mr. Jackson and his Estate, we will have no further public statements.”

The focus of the suit is on AEG’s alleged relationship with Murray, and a reportedly unsigned contract between the doctor and the company that called for him to be paid $150,000 per month for his exclusive care and treatment of Michael Jackson for 11 months. It also allegedly included a provision requiring AEG to provide medical equipment including a cardiopulmonary resuscitator and nurse.

The suit alleges that terms of the concert tour agreement between Michael Jackson and AEG included the provision that AEG could seize his lucrative Sony/ATC catalog – including songs by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin – and other assets if the London residency failed to take place. Those terms, according to the complaint, put tremendous pressure on an unhealthy MJ to complete the concerts.

It also alleges that on June 18, 2009, Phillips and other AEG staff met Jackson at his Bel Air mansion for a meeting, at which they threatened to “pull the plug” on the tour if he missed any more rehearsals.

“They said it was to be ‘tough love’ and that they had read Jackson the ‘riot act,’” the complaint says. “AEG knew or should have known that it was jeopardizing Jackson’s health and safety by assuming control over the doctor-patient relationship between Jackson and Murray, and by directing and influencing Murray to act without regard to medical safety standards.”

Michael was allegedly ordered to work with Murray and no other doctors, including Dr. Arnold Klein, the dermatologist who made the rounds of TV interview shows after MJ’s death and insinuated he might be the father of at least one of his children with Debbie Rowe.

The night after the “riot act” meeting, the complaint states, Murray gave MJ a “cocktail of Valium, Ativan, Versed and Propofol to get him to sleep,” a regimen “similar to the medications he had given Jackson for the prior five weeks.” A week later, Jackson would be dead.