LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Michael Jackson's declining album sales and likeability had limited his earning potential in the years before his death, an entertainment industry consultant testified Monday.
Eric Briggs was called to testify by lawyers for concert promoter AEG Live in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the late singer's family.
On July 15, an expert testifying for the Jackson family said the singer's death had caused a loss of income estimated between $1.1 to $1.5 billion, earned from 37 months of touring, along with merchandise, endorsements, and royalties from a Las Vegas show.
Attorneys for the concert promoter presented conflicting documents prepared by AEG Live that estimated Jackson would earn $132 million for 186 shows, far less than certified public accountant Arthur Erk had estimated in his testimony.
Briggs has spent the past two days of court testimony disputing the number offered by Erk, calling the $1 billion price tag pure speculation.
"Clearly this figure is in excess of what we have seen in the history of the world," Briggs testified.
"It is completely out of line with history, Michael Jackson's own history, the history of all other tours," he went on to say.
Briggs produced a chart that showed the singer's likeability rating had declined over the years. Together with declining album sales, Briggs said such factors had limited Jackson's ability to earn money from sponsorships and endorsements.
Both sides have criticized the expert witnesses called by opposing counsel.
"They tried to make an expert out of someone who was an accountant and who had never worked in the touring business," AEG Live lead attorney Marvin Putnam said.
"This man has no experience in the area and when we get to cross examine him the truth with come out," said Jackson lead attorney Brian Panish.
Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, has alleged executives at AEG were negligent when they hired Dr. Conrad Murray to look after the singer during the 'This Is It' concert tour. AEG denies any wrongdoing and maintains the doctor was brought on at Jackson's request.
Murray was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter after giving the singer an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.
The question of the singer's lost income will continue Tuesday as AEG attorneys proceed with their defense. The trial is expected to last until September.
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