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Jackson Family's Wrongful Death Suit Moves to Trial

By McCarton Ackerman 03/04/13

The lawsuit claims Michael Jackson's tour promoters played a role in his overdose death.

Could Jackson's OD have been prevented?
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A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's mother and children over his 2009 death accuses concert promoter AEG Live of complicity in the singer's drug overdose. The lawsuit has revealed several "smoking gun" emails claiming the promoters pressured Jackson's physician Dr. Conrad Murray to get the late singer ready for his 2009 "This Is It" comeback tour, despite his fragile health. The evidence includes an e-mail written by AEG Live Co-CEO Paul Gongaware to tour director Kenny Ortega, eleven days before Jackson's death. "We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary," Gogaware wrote, "We want to remind him what is expected of him." In another e-mail, when Ortega expressed concerns about Jackson's health a week before his death, AEG Live President Randy Phillips ignored them and gave a glowing endorsement of Murray. AEG Live are claiming to have no liability in Jackson's death, since they didn't technically employ Murray and therefore could not have foreseen what drugs he would prescribe. Jackson died from an overdose of propofol in combination with sedatives, administered by Murray, who is now serving a four-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter. A judge ruled last Wednesday that Jackson family lawyers had provided enough evidence to warrant a jury trial, and that the promoters could have foreseen that Murray would prescribe potentially harmful drugs. The Jacksons are seeking damages equivalent to what the singer would have earned over the course of his life had he not died in 2009, which could result in a several billion dollar payout. 

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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