LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A human resources specialist testified Monday that concert promoter AEG should have performed a background check on Michael Jackson's doctor, whose indebtedness presented a potential conflict of interest.
Testifying in the wrongful death civil lawsuit against AEG, expert witness Jean Seawright told jurors that the promoter "did indeed fail to follow adequate hiring processes" when dealing with Dr. Conrad Murray.
The lawsuit contends AEG is liable for Jackson's 2009 death because it hired, retained or supervised Dr. Conrad Murray while the singer was prepping for his "This Is It" tour. Jackson died in his sleep after Murray allegedly administered a deadly dose of propofol.
Seawright testified that a financial background check, which she said would have only cost AEG $10, would have shown that Dr. Murray was deeply in debt.
Under Murray's contract with AEG, the doctor would no longer receive $150,000 each month in compensation if the tour stopped.
But KNX 1070's Margaret Carrero reports that attorneys for AEG presented an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission policy that said credit checks should be avoided because they can be discriminatory to potential applicants.
AEG Lawyers: Credit Checks Can Be Discriminatory
Jackson attorney Brian Panish said it was inappropriate to raise the EEOC policy because it was neither a regulation nor a statute.
Outside of court, AEG attorney Marvin Putnam said the policy was presented to determine Seawright's credibility.
Seawright testified that Murray was a high-risk employee, given his access to the singer's home, children, and confidential records. Seawright told jurors that the risks associated with Murray's role should have been reason enough to perform a background check on the doctor.
HR Expert: Background Check Warranted
During Seawright's testimony, Jackson attorneys once again showed the jury an email exchange between AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips and tour director Kenny Ortega, in which the executive appears to praise Dr. Murray. In the email, Phillips writes that the singer is physically and emotionally fit and that Dr. Murray believes stopping the tour would only hurt Jackson.
"This doctor is extremely successful (we check everyone out) and does not need this gig so he's totally unbiased and ethical," Phillips wrote.
AEG argues it hired Dr. Murray only on Jackson's request, and does not provide background checks on independent contractors.
Seawright is schedule to conclude her testimony Tuesday.
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