By Jeff Gottlieb
4:41 PM EDT, May 23, 2013
An AEG executive sent an email shortly before Michael Jackson died, saying the firm had requested a meeting with his doctor “to remind him that it is AEG, not MJ who is paying his salary. We want him to understand what is expected of him."
The email was shown to the jury Thursday in the wrongful death suit filed by Jackson’s mother and children against Anschutz Entertainment Group, the promoter and producer of his ill-fated “This Is It” concert series in London.
A key issue in the lawsuit is who employed Conrad Murray, the doctor who administered Jackson the fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol. The email appears to boost the Jackson family's case that Murray was employed by AEG and, therefore, his loyalty was to the firm. It was shown during the fourth day of testimony by Shawn Trell, AEG Live’s senior vice president and legal counsel.
AEG says that Jackson hired Murray and that any payments it was supposed to give the doctor were advances to the singer.
But Trell testified Thursday that negotiations about Murray's contract were between the doctor and AEG and that neither Jackson nor his representatives saw the three or four drafts.
“You could have said Mr. Jackson, 'We believe something as personal as hiring a doctor, you should hire your own doctor with your own money,' " asked Brian Panish, one of the Jackson’s attorneys.
“Yes,” Trell replied.
Panish asked him if anything stopped the firm from telling Jackson to negotiate a deal with Murray and then advance him the money, as it had for production costs and to pay for the cost of Jackson’s mansion.
“Nothing,” Trell replied.
Murray was supposed to receive $150,000 a month, but AEG never paid him. Murray signed the contract the day before Jackson died in June 2009. Neither AEG nor the singer signed it.
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