By Jeff Gottlieb
10:09 PM EDT, September 24, 2013
An attorney for Michael Jackson’s family told jurors Tuesday that concert promoter AEG Live hired the doctor who administered the fatal dose of a powerful anesthetic and that the company now should pay for the singer’s death.
Brian Panish told jurors that AEG should have to pay non-economic or personal damages of $85 million to each of Jackson’s three children and $35 million to his mother.
This marked the first time in the nearly five-month-long trial that the Jacksons have placed a number on damages they are seeking from the entertainment company.
Those figures could be dwarfed by the economic damages, however. Panish told jurors they would have to sort that out, but he showed them a slide that reminded the panel that an expert witness testified the singer would have earned $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion if he had lived, from new music, tours, endorsements and a Las Vegas show.
“We’re not looking for sympathy,” Panish said. “We’re looking for justice, full and complete.”
Panish, speaking in a much more low-key manner than when he took testimony, quoted Abraham Lincoln and the Book of Exodus during his day-long closing argument.
He also went straight at the question of Jackson’s culpability in his death. “It’s about shared responsibility,” he said. “Michael probably has some fault.... I’m not going to deny that Michael used prescription drugs and that people told him it’s risky to use propofol.”
But he said that unless Dr. Conrad Murray, who gave Jackson the anesthetic for 60 days to fight insomnia, had been hired by AEG, Jackson would still be alive.
“No Murray, no AEG, no propofol, Michael’s still here,” he said.
The Jacksons have sued AEG over 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.
AEG attorneys are set to make closing arguments Wednesday, and the case could be in the jury’s hands by the end of the week.
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