LOS ANGELES (KABC) — During the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial Wednesday, new accusations flew about Jackson’s potential earnings if he had lived.
The testimony of AEG defense witness Eric Briggs shoots down the projections presented by the Jackson attorneys. During arguments outside the presence of the jury, Jackson lawyer Brian Panish shouted, “He is lying. He is lying.”
Panish has been chipping away at Briggs’ credibility.
“Where is the research?” Panish asked in front of the jury, demanding to see how the $800-an-hour consultant formed his theories.
A court order was issued to compel Briggs to produce his research materials. During the lunch hour, Briggs’ firm said there were no additional documents. The numbers are a component of what jurors could award the Jacksons, but only if they find AEG liable for hiring Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, and failing to monitor him.
Briggs had earlier stated that the Jackson estimates of hundreds of sellout concerts were speculative and that sponsors shied from Jackson because of reports of scandal and drug-use. Briggs showed a graph demonstrating other acts grossed far more than Jackson, and that he was not the biggest star in the world.
Panish showed different math. He said Jackson’s potential gross for 186 concerts is $1.1 billion. Panish also probed Briggs about the value of Jackson’s biggest holding, the Sony catalog of songs.
Questioning revealed that Briggs also worked for the Jackson estate evaluating the catalog’s worth. Panish said that shows a conflict of interest, asserting that Briggs’ testimony is tainted.
Michael Laperruque, the former head of Jackson’s security team, will take the stand Thursday.
Meantime, attorneys are still clashing. Transcripts obtained by Eyewitness News record complaints made to the judge outside the presence of the jury.
Panish took aim at a defense attorney: “Your honor, Ms. Strong keeps looking over at me making faces, making noises, trying to disrupt me.”
Panish threatened to take matters in his own hands.
The judge: “I didn’t hear anything.”
It goes on with plaintiffs’ attorney Kevin Boyle saying: “It’s like a little squeakfest of grunt and laughing, and the jury will see them.”
The judge instructs Strong: “Don’t look in his direction. No grunt or groaning or anything.”
Jackson s security chief talks med emergency
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Jurors heard from Michael Jackson’s former security chief during the Jackson family’s wrongful death trial on Thursday. They learned about a medical emergency involving the pop star that few people had known about.
About six years before Jackson stopped breathing in his Holmby Hills home, he fell unconscious at an Orlando hotel, according to his security director, Michael La Perruque.
La Perruque, a former Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy, testified about an incident he says he has never disclosed publicly until now. He says hotel security alerted him that Jackson’s children had called paramedics.
La Perruque said, “I found the two children crying. Prince and Paris, they were crying. They were saying they couldn’t wake up daddy.”
He told the jury that Jackson had collapsed on the floor but was still breathing. La Perruque said he helped Jackson get to bed, where he came to. AEG defense attorney Marvin Putnam asked if he later discussed the incident with Jackson.
La Perruque said no and that he didn’t think it was his place to discuss it.
La Perruque worked for Jackson between 2001 and 2004, a time in which Jackson sought help from Dr. Alimorad Farshchian for addiction to Demerol and received an implant to inhibit the drug’s effects.
La Perruque testified that he had concerns that Jackson may overdose and that 10 to 15 times he had observed Jackson slurring his speech, mumbling and nodding off in meetings.
Despite the episodes, La Perruque says he never saw meds in Jackson’s hotel room or saw him take medications.
La Perruque described a failed intervention at Neverland Ranch in 2001. He said Jackson’s brother Randy hired a helicopter to breach the perimeter and land on the grounds. He said that Jackson asked to have Randy sent away. La Perruque said he complied.
The AEG defense contends that the company should not be held liable for Jackson’s death because AEG didn’t know about medical conditions that Jackson kept secret and that Jackson insulated himself, even from his family.
The plaintiffs elicited testimony that the times Jackson was slurring his speech could have been from a sleeping pill because the star struggled with insomnia. La Perruque stated that there was no indication that the singer was taking any drugs in front of his children and that if he thought the children were endangered, he would have called authorities.
La Perruque will continue his testimony on Monday when the trial resumes.
Michael Jackson estate denies allowing expert to help AEG Live
By Alan Duke, CNN
Los Angeles (CNN) — Michael Jackson’s estate never gave an expert it hired permission to help AEG Live defend against the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Jackson’s mother and children, the estate’s top lawyer said Thursday.
The revelation raised questioned about the testimony of entertainment industry consultant Eric Briggs, who was hired by AEG Live to challenge the Jacksons’ expert opinions concerning damages the concert promoter might owe if found liable in the singer’s death.
Briggs told the court this week that his company — FTI Consultants — had gotten a waiver from a Jackson estate lawyer before agreeing to work on the concert promoter’s defense.
Briggs had signed a confidentiality agreement with the Jackson estate in 2010 when he was hired to determine the value of its biggest asset — the Sony-ATV music catalog that includes the Beatles songs — for the estate’s tax filings in 2010.
He was hired by AEG Live lawyers in February to prepare a challenge of the opinion of an expert hired by the Jackson lawyers to calculate how much money the singer would have earned had he not died while working on his comeback concerts in 2009.
Briggs said he — or someone else in his company — gained permission from the Jackson estate lawyer Jeryll Cohen to waive any potential conflict of interest.
“No one from the estate or any lawyers authorized or waived any potential conflict for FTI or Mr. Briggs,” Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman wrote in an e-mail read in court Thursday.
Such a waiver would be counter to the interests of the estate’s beneficiaries — Jackson’s mother and three children, a Jackson lawyer said.
Despite the conflict, the judge ordered Briggs to answer questions posed by Katherine Jackson’s lawyers about the music catalog. He said although his valuation placed Jackson’s interest in the catalog at about the same level as Jackson’s debt at the time of his death — which he said was $400 million — the IRS challenged it as low.
An independent analyst hired by the IRS concluded he had undervalued Jackson’s interest in the catalog by up to $300 million, Briggs testified.
Jackson lawyers argue it is evidence the singer was not broke when he died, contrary to what Briggs said in his testimony.
Briggs testified this week that it was his opinion that it was speculative that Jackson would have earned a dime more in his life if he had not died of a propofol overdose on June 25, 2009. He based his opinion the testimony of a doctor who said earlier that he did not think Jackson would have lived even another week past that date.
Panish, however, pointed out that the doctor’s opinion was based on the assumption that Dr. Conrad Murray would still be giving Jackson nightly infusions of propofol — the surgical anesthetic the coroner said killed him — as a treatment for insomnia. The Jackson’s suit contends AEG Live is liable because it negligently hired, retained or supervised Murray.