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AEG Live will be on defense in Michael Jackson trial

CNN News Wire | 4/3/2013, 5 p.m.

Michael Jackson's last concert promoter will defend itself in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the pop icon's family by arguing that Jackson was responsible for his own demise.

Child molestation accusations against Jackson, for which he was acquitted after a trial, and evidence of his drug addiction will likely be presented by AEG Live's lawyers as they argue that the company had no liability in his death.

The Jackson v. AEG Live trial, which could last two or three months, began jury selection in a Los Angeles courtroom this week.

Jackson died two weeks before his "This Is It" comeback concerts, organized by AEG Live, were to have debuted in London in the summer of 2009.

"I don't know how you can't look to Mr. Jackson's responsibility there," AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam said. "He was a grown man." Putnam was interviewed for "Michael Jackson: The Final Days," a CNN documentary that will premiere at 10 p.m. Friday.

Jackson's eccentricities are fair game, AEG Live says.

Lawyers for Jackson's mother, Katherine, and children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, argue that AEG Live is liable because the company hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who used a surgical anesthetic in a fatal effort to treat the singer's insomnia as he prepared for the comeback concerts. Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and is serving a prison sentence.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos ruled in February that Jackson lawyers have shown enough evidence to warrant a jury trial on the negligent hiring case. She also ruled there was evidence to support the Jacksons' claim that AEG Live executives could have foreseen that Murray would use dangerous drugs in treating the singer.

The lawsuit seeks a judgment against AEG Live equal to the money Jackson would have earned over the course of his remaining lifetime if he had not died in 2009. If AEG Live is found liable, it could cost the company several billion dollars, according to estimates of Jackson's income potential. AEG Live is a subsidiary of AEG, a global entertainment company that was up for sale recently with an $8 billion asking price.

The judge heard arguments for television cameras in the Los Angeles courtroom just before jury selection started. While the Jackson lawyers are expected to support CNN's request to televise the trial, AEG lawyers say they are worried it could create a fan "frenzy" outside the courthouse.

The wrongful death trial, which could last several months, is expected to include testimony from Jackson's mother and his two oldest children, Prince and Paris.

CNN's Don Lemon and Rachel Wells contributed to this report.

Alan Duke | CNN News Wire