LOS ANGELES Michael Jackson died because of his own bad choices, not because of anything done by AEG Live, a lawyer for the producer of Jackson's comeback concerts told jurors Wednesday.
Delivering his closing argument in the long-running negligence case by Jackson's family, defense attorney Marvin Putnam said the company did not know anything about Jackson's use of propofol as a sleep aid and did not hire Dr. Conrad Murray to be his physician for the "This Is It" shows in London.
Putnam said Jackson and AEG Live both wanted the concerts to go forward but suggested the company would have pulled the plug on the tour if it had known Jackson was using propofol.
"AEG only learned the truth after Mr. Jackson passed," Putnam said. "AEG would have never agreed to finance this tour if they knew Mr. Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night."
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson an overdose of propofol in 2009. The drug is not meant to be used outside operating rooms.
Putnam also accused lawyers for the Jackson family of asking jurors to close their ears to facts surrounding the actions of the singer.
"Mr. Jackson chose his doctor years before he chose the drug that killed him," Putnam said. "He made some bad choices that resulted in a horrible tragedy. You can't blame someone else for his bad choices. He was a grown man."
A day earlier, a lawyer for Katherine Jacksonas mercenaries who sacrificed the pop star's life in a quest to boost their own fortunes.
Attorney Brian Panish said a $150,000-a-month contract to care for Jackson on tour was a lifeline to help Murray climb out of his financial troubles. He blamed AEG executives for failing to realize Murray was unfit for the job.
Murray's willingness to close his medical offices to take the job should have raised a red flag if AEG Live had investigated the cardiologist, the lawyer said.
"Obviously, he was incompetent and unfit," Panish said. "He caused the death of Michael Jackson."
A key issue in the negligence suit is whether AEG Live or Michael Jackson hired Murray.
The company has claimed that Jackson insisted that Murray treat him because the doctor was giving him propofol.
AEG Live drafted a contract for Murray's services, according to testimony, but it was only signed by Murray. Still, Panish said, the contract was valid because it was the result of oral negotiations with Murray.
Panish suggested that jurors award $290 million to Katherine Jackson and the singer's children for non-economic damages such as the loss of love and comfort. He said $35 million for Katherine Jackson and $85 million for each child was appropriate given their life expectancy.
He gave no specific figure for possible economic damages, urging jurors to make their own decision while reminding them that expert witnesses had said Michael Jackson could have earned more than $1 billion had he lived longer.
The trial took a cinematic turn during closing arguments by Panish, who screened a dazzling video of Jackson's life and artistic triumphs, from humble beginnings in Gary, Ind., and the days of the Jackson 5 to arena shows before thousands of fans around the world.
Panish also spoke of the anguish of Michael's children, Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson, over the loss of their father. He was warned by Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos that jurors were not to be swayed by sympathy in reaching their verdict.
"We're not looking for sympathy," Panish said. "We're looking for justice, not partial but complete justice."
He played another video showing heart-wrenching home movies of Jackson and his children with poems and tributes by the superstar to his mother.
Some of the fans who crowded the courtroom rushed out in tears after the video ended.
A unanimous verdict is not required in the case. Only nine of the 12 jurors must agree.