An attorney for AEG Live testified Wednesday at the Michael Jackson wrongful-death lawsuit trial that all three drafts of Dr. Conrad Murray’s contracts were sent to the concert promoter’s general counsel, but none to the pop star’s representatives.
A key element in the case is who Murray was working for.
Jackson's mother and three children are suing AEG Live, saying the company negligently hired and controlled Murray, who gave Jackson a fatal overdose of the anesthetic propofol as he was preparing for a comeback tour in 2009. AEG says it was Jackson who hired the doctor.
Kathy Jorrie also testified that while changes were made in the drafts of Murray’s contract, every version said Murray was to “Perform the services reasonably requested by Producer,” AEG.
Murray signed the final draft on June 24, 2009, the day before Jackson died. Neither Jackson nor an AEG representative had signed it.
Jorrie testified she told AEG Live Chief Executive Randy Phillips that Murray was successful, based on a 10-minute Google search and a conversation in which the doctor told her his four clinics were grossing $1 million a month. She testified that her Internet research turned up one clinic in Nevada and another in Texas.
She didn’t discover that Murray was actually deeply in debt. Under questioning by Brian Panish, the Jackson family attorney, she said she hadn’t checked to see if his house was in foreclosure or if he owed child support.
“I could have,” Jorrie said.
Jorrie’s characterization of Murray would come back to haunt Phillips, who wrote an email a few days before Jackson died saying he was “gaining immense respect” for him. “This doctor is extremely successful (we check everyone out)… “
Murray was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter and is serving a jail sentence.
The trial also turned to AEG’s relationship with Tohme Tohme, the singer's sometime manager, a man who was referred to as a “doctor” even though no one seemed to know whether he really was a physician or held a Phd.
Jurors were shown letters and emails Jackson wrote saying Tohme was not his representative, although concert promoter and producer AEG Live acted as if he were.
Jorrie expressed reservations about Tohme as early as January 2009, five months before the singer died.
In an email to AEG executives, she wondered "whether or not he is the real McCoy... Nonetheless, I recommend that a background check be performed through a private investigator and/or at a minimum, that someone at AEG Live meet with Michael Jackson to make sure he understands that we are entering into a tour agreement with him that will require him to perform a worldwide tour.”
No private investigator was hired.
A copy of the email was sent to Peter Lopez, one of Jackson’s attorneys.
On April 22, 2009, Jackson wrote Phillips, “This letter shall serve to confirm that I am not using Dr. Tohme for tour production management services and that I do not intend to use Dr. Tohme in the future for tour production management services or with respect to other event related matters.
"Therefore, you are not authorized to pay Dr. Tohme or any of his affiliated companies for any such services in connection with my upcoming tour or any future tours or other events..."
Jorrie testified she did not see the letter before Jackson died on June 25, 2009.
However, on June 28, 2009, three days after Jackson died, Tohme was given a document to approve payment of the $34 million AEG had advanced the singer. Jorrie testified the document was drawn up by her and Shawn Trell, AEG Live's general counsel. The document, signed by Tohme, said he was an officer of Michael Jackson Co. LLP and had authority to act on the company's behalf.
A Jan. 14, 2009, email from Jackson attorney Dennis Hawk to Jorrie said the singer was "the sole officer" of the company "and will be the signatory to the contract on behalf of the entity.”
Jorrie said AEG executive Paul Gongaware, a defendant in the suit, may have told her Tohme was an officer of the Jackson's company. Included in the document were 35 pages of expenses that Jackson supposedly owed AEG.
Jorrie testified that the document was never sent to Jackson's lawyers, even though it was handed to Tohme in the office of one of them.
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