Michael Jackson's Children Might Testify in Concert Promoter Wrongful Death Trial

The wrongful death lawsuit against the King of Pop's concert promoter begins Tuesday with jury selection in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013  |  Updated 3:46 PM EDT
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The Many Faces of the Man in the Mirror

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Michael Jackson at a press conference to announce plans for a summer residency of concerts at the O2 Arena, Grenwich on March 5, 2009 in London, England.

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Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial for a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's family against the concert promoter behind the pop star's concert tour that claims the company is liable for his June 2009 death.

The civil trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom comes more than one year after the King of Pop's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the case's criminal trial. Jackson's death from acute Propofol -- a surgical anesthetic -- intoxication at his rented home in Holmby Hills occurred hours after a rehearsal for the 50-year-old entertainer's 50-show tour called "This Is It."

Katherine Jackson, the singer's 82-year-old mother, filed the lawsuit in September 2010 on behalf of herself and her son's three children. The lawsuit claims AEG Live was responsible for choosing Dr. Murray to be Jackson's personal physician -- a decision that ultimately led to Jackson's death, according to the lawsuit.

"People are going to feel like this is a re-run because we lived through the Conrad Murray trial," said NBC4 legal analyst Royal Oakes. "The question then was, 'Who killed Michael Jackson.' The jury said it was Dr. Murray.

"Now, it's essentially the same question, but the focus since it's a civil case -- not a criminal case -- is on whether AEG was pushing Dr. Murray to make it unsafe for Michael."

Jackson family members are seeking millions of dollars they say the superstar would have earned.

The trial could require several months of testimony, including statements from Jackson's children about their father's final days. Jackson's two oldest children were present when emergency teams responded to 911 calls June 25, 2009 from the Holmby Hills mansion at which prosecutors said Murray delivered the fatal Propofol dose.

Some of the testimony might involve Jackson's prescription drug use and the child molestation case in which he was acquitted as attorneys for AEG Live attempt to show Jackson created the conditions for his own demise. AEG Live attorneys have maintained the company never hired Murray, but that he had been one of several doctors treating the entertainer long before he agreed to the 50-concert tour.

Murray, serving four years in Los Angeles County men's jail for the November 2011 involuntary manslaughter conviction, provided Jackson with the drug Propofol to help him sleep. Katherine Jackson's attorneys allege that the concert promoter should have considered red flags regarding Murray.

Murray did not testify at the criminal trial. It is unlikely he will testify in the civil matter with an appeal pending for the criminal case conviction.

AEG Live is owned by Denver-based billionaire Philip Anschutz. AEG Inc.'s former president and chief executive officer, and that company -- which has a significant Southern California presence -- were dismissed as defendants. AEG, a subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, owns the NHL's LA Kings, Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy and Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

AEG is behind plans to build an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles in an effort to attract a professional football franchise.

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