A professional concert tour director testified Friday in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial that a doctor's demand for $5 million to serve as the singer's tour physician "raised a red flag."
Marty Hom, who has spent 25 to 30 years as a tour director and tour manager, said that Dr. Conrad Murray's original demand was "outrageous." Murray, a cardiologist who closed his practice to serve Jackson, eventually agreed to work for $150,000 a month.
Hom, who testified as an expert witness, also said he would never tell a director he had checked out a doctor if he hadn’t, a reference to claims by the Jackson family about an AEG executive.
A portion of Hom's March 25 video deposition was played to the jury in the lawsuit brought by Jackson's mother and three children. They contend that entertainment giant AEG negligently hired and supervised Murray, who administered a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to the singer to combat his insomnia. AEG says that Jackson hired Murray and that any payments the company was supposed to make to the doctor were advances to the singer.
Anschutz Entertainment Group had deposed Hom as an expert witness, paying him $500 a hour. In an unusual move, the Jacksons' attorneys played about 45 minutes of the deposition, taken under oath. Brian Panish, one of the family's lawyers, said he played the testimony to ensure the jury heard it, even if AEG did not call Hom during the trial.
Hom also testified he had never been on a tour where the artist brought a doctor along, although he later said doctors toured with the Rolling Stones and Blink 182, but Hom did not work with them.
Much of Hom's testimony centered on the relationship between a tour manager, performer and doctor. A key question in the lawsuit is whether Murray, who was in desperate financial straits, was more concerned with Jackson's interests or AEG's.
Hom said it was not appropriate for the tour manager or promoter to inject themselves into the doctor-patient relationship.
Asked if it would be OK for someone to speak to the performer's doctor without the artist present, he answered, "I thought it was the doctor's responsibility to say no."
He said he knew of no instance where a promoter or producer had a private conversation with the artist's doctor.
He testified that when performers were ill, "my natural instinct is to go to that doctor and ask him, 'Is that dancer going or musician going to be able to make that show in a week?”
Hom also testified that he knew of no instance where a promoter or tour manager paid the performer's manager.
Panish said outside court that he will later introduce evidence that AEG was paying Jackson's managers, which could be a conflict of interest.