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AEG could be liable for several billion dollars in the death of Michael Jackson, pending a jury trial set to being next month. The judge has rejected the concert promoter’s request to have the case thrown out and will allow next month’s trial to take place. The move was at least in part based on several e-mails that insist AEG Live’s Randy Phillips was exerting pressure on Dr. Conrad Murray to get the superstar to rehearsal for his series of “This Is It” dates at London’s 02 Arena in 2009. The doctor, currently serving a prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter conviction, treated Jackson with the powerful anesthetic propofol and assorted sedatives. Jackson lawyers insist a “smoking gun e-mail” was sent by AEG Live Co-CEO Paul Gongaware to show director Kenny Ortega 11 days before Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, addressing concerns that Murray had kept Jackson from a rehearsal the day before: “We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him.” Jackson lawyers argue the e-mail is evidence that AEG Live used Murray’s fear of losing his $150,000-a-month job as Jackson’s personal physician to pressure him to have Jackson ready for rehearsals despite his fragile health. Jackson lawyers insist other e-mails prove that AEG’s Phillips was directly involved with pressuring Murray to have Jackson at rehearsals. An e-mail sent by AEG Live tour accountant Timm Woolley to an insurance broker two days before Jackson died said: “Randy Phillips and Dr. Murray are responsible for MJ rehearsal and attendance schedule.” Responding to Ortega’s concerns, Phillips dashed off another e-mail. “It is critical that neither you, me or anyone around this show become amateur psychiatrists or physicians,” adding that he was in touch with Murray and had gained “immense respect” for the cardiologist. “[Murray] said that Michael is not only physically equipped to perform [but] that discouraging him to [perform] will hasten his decline instead of stopping it. You cannot imagine the harm and ramifications of stopping the show now. It would far outweigh ‘calling this game in the 7th inning.’ I am not just talking about AEG’s interests here, but the myriad of stuff and lawsuits swirling around MJ that I crisis manage every day and also his well-being.” Signing off as “Randy,” he added: “Please stay steady. Enough alarms have sounded. It is time to put out the fire, not burn the building down.” The lawsuit seeks a judgment against AEG Live equal to the money Jackson would have earned over the course of his remaining lifetime if he had not died in 2009. If AEG Live is found liable, it could cost the company several billion dollars, according to estimates of Jackson’s income potential. AEG Live is a subsidiary of AEG, a global entertainment company that is now for sale with an $8 billion asking price. In the end, it’s all about the money.


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