AEG Live's negligence allegedly included executives ignoring a series of red flags that Jackson lawyers say should have alerted them that Murray was a danger to Jackson.
Murray was kept on the job despite warning signs that Jackson's health had deteriorated by the middle of June to the point that he could not remember song lyrics or perform trademark dance moves; he was hearing voices and talking to himself; and he was suffering chills during summertime rehearsals, Jackson lawyers say.
Assistant show director Alif Sankey testified that she screamed at show director Kenny Ortega in a phone call after a June 19 rehearsal, begging that he get help for Jackson. "I kept saying that 'Michael is dying, he's dying, he's leaving us, he needs to be put in a hospital,' " Sankey said. " 'Please do something. Please, please.' I kept saying that. I asked him why no one had seen what I had seen. He said he didn't know."
Jackson died a few days later.
Karen Faye, the pop singer's makeup artist, said Jackson seemed "frightened" and was talking to himself, repeating "the same thing over and over again" at that rehearsal.
Tour production manager John "Bugzee" Hougdahl sent an email to AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips the next morning. "I have watched him deteriorate in front of my eyes over the last 8 weeks. He was able to do multiple 360 spins back in April. He'd fall on his ass if he tried now," Hougdahl wrote. "He was a basket case and Kenny (Ortega) was concerned he would embarrass himself on stage, or worse yet -- get hurt. The company is rehearsing right now, but the DOUBT is pervasive."
Ortega sounded a warning the same day in an email to Phillips describing "strong signs of paranoia, anxiety and obsessive-like behavior" from Jackson. "I think the very best thing we can do is get a top psychiatrist to evaluate him ASAP."
Ortega testified that with just a dozen days left for rehearsals before the touring company moved to London for the opening, he "felt that we should stop" the production on June 19, but he was "torn because I did not want to break Michael's heart."
Instead of stopping the rehearsals, getting a another doctor to check Jackson or replace Murray, Phillips met with Murray and put him in charge of making sure Jackson missed no more rehearsals.
Phillips sent an email to Ortega after the meeting saying he had confidence in Murray, "who I am gaining immense respect for as I get to deal with him more. This doctor is extremely successful (we check everyone out) and does not need this gig, so he (is) totally unbiased and ethical."
AEG Live says that Jackson appeared much better on June 23 and 24, the rehearsals that are seen in the "This Is It" documentary. Jackson died on the morning of June 25.
Questions No. 6-13
If jurors get to question six, it means they've decided AEG Live is liable in Jackson's death. The next eight questions would decide a dollar figure for the economic and noneconomic damages suffered by his mother and children.
California law allows Jackson's heirs to sue for the lost earnings capacity -- the amount of money he could reasonably be expected to earn had he not died on June 25, 2009. Since Jackson was arguably one of the most successful entertainers in history, the damage amount could be enormous.
Contrary to what many media outlets have reported, the Jacksons never asked for $40 billion. In fact, by law the complaint does not state an amount. It is something that the lawyers may argue in court based on testimony and evidence presented in the trial.
Even though AEG Live sold out Jackson's 50 London shows in record time and their executives had placed a big bet on Jackson's earning power, their lawyers worked to convince jurors that Jackson was a has-been with limited future earning potential. One of their experts testified that he believed that Jackson might not have earned another dime in his career.
Eric Briggs based his conclusion on testimony by a Jackson sleep expert that the singer was near death from lack of sleep, even if he had not overdosed on propofol. Harvard sleep expert Dr. Charles Czeisler testified he believed that Murray's infusions of propofol robbed Jackson of essential REM sleep that would have eventually proved fatal unless stopped. The drug interrupts crucial REM sleep cycles, depriving the brain of real rest and repair, the expert said.
Jackson lawyers scoffed at Briggs' use of that theory, arguing that AEG Live would still be liable for that eventual death.
Briggs also questioned if Jackson would have been able to complete another world tour because of his health and poor demand for tickets. He testified that "significantly negative headlines, drug abuse and other issues" had ruined Jackson's ability to earn endorsement and sponsorship money.
A Jackson expert concluded that he was reasonably certain the pop icon would have earned $1.5 billion touring the world over the next several years had he not died. He based his estimates on AEG Live's own projections developed when its executives were planning to take Jackson on tour in the year before his death.
Jackson lawyers might suggest to jurors that they add additional damages based on what they think the entertainer might have earned if he had begun making films after completing his world tour. His son Prince and nephew Taj Jackson both testified about his plans to conquer the movie world next.
Jurors would also place a dollar value on the noneconomic damages suffered by Jackson's mother and three children. The jury did hear during the trial that daughter Paris Jackson, 15, tried to kill herself in June. It is not clear if Jackson lawyer Brian Panish will point to Paris' emotional problems, which the lawyers have blamed on the loss of her father, when he argues for noneconomic damages.
Questions No. 14-16
The amount of damages calculated by the jury could be significantly reduced when they reach the last three questions on their verdict form. These ask them to decide how much, if any, Michael Jackson's own negligence was a factor in his death.
Panish has stated publicly that Jackson shares some of the liability for his own demise, but he has not suggested a percentage. Jurors will be asked to assign a percentage of blame to Jackson and to AEG Live. The concert promoter would then be ordered to pay the percentage of the damages that equals its share of blame as determined by the jury.