LOS ANGELES (AP) — The head of AEG Live LLC told jurors Wednesday that he knew Michael Jackson as a sophisticated, forceful businessman and not the drugged-up performer who’s been described throughout an ongoing civil trial filed over the singer’s untimely death.
Jackson was a far more complex figure than has been portrayed during the trial of a case filed by the singer’s mother against AEG Live over her son’s death, said Randy Philips, the company’s president and CEO.
Phillips said based on meetings he had with Jackson in 2008 and early 2009, he found Jackson to be a “sophisticated man who had control of his life.”
The portrait of Jackson that’s been presented to the jury during the seven-week trial has been inaccurate, Phillips said. Jackson was described by both sides in opening statements as struggling with prescription drug addiction throughout his life.
Phillips said he disagreed with the descriptions of Jackson “because he’s been presented as drug-addled 5-year-old. That was not the man I dealt with. The man I dealt with was forceful. Kind, but determined. He was a force.”
Jurors have been presented with conflicting accounts of Jackson, even from Philips. They will have to weigh the different portrayals when they decide who is liable for the singer’s June 2009 death.
Katherine Jackson’s lawyers contend AEG failed to properly investigate the doctor convicted of causing her son’s death, pushing her son too hard to perform and missed warning signs of his health. AEG, however, contends Michael Jackson hid his addiction to the powerful anesthetic propofol and that the company could not have foreseen that the singer’s doctor was giving him the drug as a sleep aid.
Millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake in the negligent hiring trial.
Phillips said he didn’t see signs that Jackson was struggling with prescription drugs when he met with the entertainer to discuss options for his “This Is It” comeback concerts scheduled for London’s O2 Arena in 2009. Phillips has also told jurors that Michael Jackson never told him he was having trouble sleeping.