By Jeff Gottlieb
4:29 PM EDT, September 24, 2013
Quoting from Abraham Lincoln, the Book of Exodus and internal emails from AEG Live, an attorney for Michael Jackson's family told jurors Tuesday that the concert promoter hired the doctor who gave Jackson a fatal dose of a powerful anesthetic and now should have to pay for the pop star’s death.
After pointing out that AEG put Dr. Conrad Murray in charge of Jackson's rehearsal schedule, attorney Brian Panish said, “Why would a doctor you haven’t hired be responsible for someone working for you to go to practice or rehearsal? Why? Because you hired him, that’s why."
Panish tried to educate jurors, explaining that unlike in a criminal trial they needed only to find that their claims were more likely true than not for them to find in favor of Michael Jackson's mother and three children.
The Jacksons have sued AEG for Jackson's death, saying the entertainment firm negligently hired and supervised Murray. AEG maintains that the doctor worked for Jackson and any money the firm was supposed to pay the doctor was an advance to the singer.
Panish explained that Murray did not need a written agreement to have a valid contract, that an oral agreement was just as good.
After not allowing TV cameras in court during the nearly five-month trial, Judge Yvette Palazuelos reversed herself Tuesday. The closing statements already had been moved to a much larger courtroom to accommodate the media crush and a growing number of spectators.
Panish, speaking in a much calmer tone than he used during testimony, tried to turn the words of AEG executives against them, as he had during much of the trial. Panish will finish his closing statement Tuesday afternoon, and attorneys for AEG will have their turn Wednesday.
Panish quoted experts who said that when Murray closed his Las Vegas practice to take on Jackson as his only patient, asking at first for $5 million, the sum should have immediately raised red flags.
Murray, who was in dire financial straits, eventually agreed to compensation of $150,000 month, circumstances that experts testified created a conflict between his money needs and his patient's care.
Panish showed a television interview of AEG Live Chief Executive Randy Phillips, filmed before the lawsuit was filed, talking about Murray.
“The guy’s willing to leave his practice for a very large sum of money, so we hired him,” Phillips says in the interview.
“It’s real simple," Panish said. "He’s the CEO of the company, as high as it gets. He admitted it.”
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