By Jeff Gottlieb
9:20 PM EDT, September 25, 2013
A claim by the family of Michael Jackson that it be awarded damages up to $1.5 billion for the pop star’s death is “ridiculous,” an attorney for entertainment powerhouse AEG told jurors Wednesday
Marvin Putnam, the lead attorney for AEG, said an expert witness for the entertainment firm determined that the potential economic damages resulting from Jackson’s death were closer to $21 million.
Beyond the differing calculation for what the pop singer might have earned had he lived long enough to pull off a worldwide tour and a Las Vegas show later in life, Putnam said AEG was not liable for Jackson’s 2009 overdose death.
“It wasn’t AEG’s fault,” Putnam said during his closing argument in the 4-month-old trial. “All they wanted to do was put on a concert.”
Jackson, who was 50 when he died, was a grown man who was responsible for his own health, Putnam said, a statement he tried to drill into jurors’ minds throughout the day.
“Plaintiffs want you to hold a concert promoter liable for Michael Jackson’s overdose, in his bedroom, at night, behind locked doors,” he said.
Jackson, Putnam said, had used propofol since 1997 while on tour in Germany.
The singer, who suffered from terrible insomnia, tried to persuade other doctors through the years to use the anesthetic, Putnam said.
“Michael Jackson was told over and over and over again that propofol was dangerous, that it could kill him, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” the lawyer said.
AEG Live, Putnam said, would never have agreed to finance the tour “if it knew Mr. Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night.”
Jackson died a few weeks before his 50-concert London comeback was to begin. His mother and three children are suing AEG, saying that the company negligently hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, the Las Vegas physician who administered the fatal dose of the anesthetic.
AEG has maintained that Murray worked for Jackson.
The case is expected to go to the jury Thursday.
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