LOS ANGELES — The attorney for AEG Live told jurors Wednesday the concert promoter never hired the doctor who was treating Michael Jackson as he prepared for a comeback tour, never had a contract with him and had no idea the doctor was giving the singer the powerful anesthetic that killed him.
“Plaintiffs want you to hold a concert promoter liable for Michael Jackson’s overdose, in his bedroom, at night, behind locked doors,” Marvin Putnam said during his closing argument in the five-month wrongful death case.
Jackson, he said, was a grown man, 50 years old and responsible for his own health.
“He made some bad choices and it resulted in a horrible tragedy, but you shouldn’t blame someone else for Mr. Jackson’s bad choices,” he said.
“Make no mistake about this,” Putnam said. “It was Mr. Jackson, not AEG Live, that chose Conrad Murray.”
Murray, a Las Vegas physician, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer’s overdose death and is now serving a jail sentence.
AEG, Murray said, tried to talk Jackson out of bringing Murray aboard for the singer’s 50-concert comeback at the 02 Arena in London, saying there were plenty of great doctors there.
“Ultimately it was his money, his doctor and his choice,” Putnam said. “If he wanted to bring his doctor along with him and his family, that was up to him, and he certainly wasn’t going to take no for an answer.”
Jackson died June 25, 2009, just a few weeks before his tour was to begin. His family is suing AEG, saying the company negligently hired and supervised Murray.
AEG has maintained throughout the nearly five-month trial that Murray worked for Jackson and that any money the company was supposed to pay him was part of an advance to the singer.
Putnam said AEG Live didn’t know anything about Jackson’s propofol use until authorities completed their investigation into the pop star’s death.
AEG Live, Putnam said, would have never agreed to finance the tour “if it knew Mr. Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night.”
The attorney tried to explain a potentially damaging email in which AEG executive Paul Gongaware wrote of Murray, “We want to remind him that it is AEG, not MJ who is paying his salary. We want him to understand what is expected of him.”
Putnam said Gongaware testified that while he didn’t recall the email, he never had that conversation with the doctor.