“This case is about personal choices,” Putnam said. “Also, it was about his personal responsibility. There’s no question that Michael Jackson’s death was a terrible tragedy. I believe the evidence will show it was not a tragedy of AEG Live’s making.”
Putnam urged the jury of six men and six women to reject placing blame on Jackson.
“Michael paid the ultimate price. He died,” Panish said. “Michael has taken responsibility.”
Jackson died before signing Murray’s $150,000 a month contract to serve as his tour doctor.
During his opening remarks, Panish displayed several emails between AEG executives discussing Jackson’s health.
One of the emails was sent by AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips before Jackson’s news conference announcing his “This Is It” shows. The message to Tim Leiweke, former CEO of AEG’S parent company, stated that Jackson was drunk and refusing to address fans.
“This is the scariest thing I have ever seen,” Phillips wrote Leiweke. “He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it’s show time. He’s scared to death.”
The case may feature testimony from Jackson’s mother and the singer’s two oldest children, Prince and Paris.
The trial will also feature testimony from the children’s parents, Debbie Rowe, who was married to Jackson and who Putnam said witnessed the entertainer receiving propofol treatments in the 1990s.
“Ms. Rowe knew this was incredibly dangerous,” Putnam said, and insisted on staying by Jackson’s side while he was under the anesthetic’s effects.
None of what the attorneys presented Monday is considered evidence, and Katherine Jackson’s attorneys are expected to spend the next several weeks questioning witnesses to try to prove their case.
Panish told jurors it would be up to them to decide any award to Jackson’s mother and children, but said had Jackson lived he could have earned at least $1.5 billion.