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'Michael Jackson was born to perform'

City News Service | 7/19/2013, 12:34 p.m.
Michael Jackson, circa 1988.

Michael Jackson was born to perform, his mother, Katherine Jackson, testified today at the trial stemming from her wrongful lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live.

Even as a baby, her son was “dancing around,” pretending his bottle was a microphone, the Jackson family matriarch told Los Angeles jurors.

“He was born that way, dancing around,” she said, during questioning by her lawyer, Brian Panish. “He wouldn’t be still.”

Katherine Jackson was cheerful and smiling as she reminisced about her son. Video clips from Michael Jackson’s career were shown in the court as she testified. Her testimony came in week 12 of the trial.

The 83-year-old Jackson filed her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit in September 2010 on behalf of herself and her late son’s three children, alleging that AEG Live and two of its executives hired Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer and failed to supervise him properly.

Murray administered propofol to Michael Jackson at the singer’s rented mansion in Holmby Hills as a sleep aid. The 50-year-old pop superstar died June 25, 2009, from an overdose of the anesthetic, for which Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in jail.

AEG Live attorneys argue that Jackson hired Murray in 2006 under an independent contractor arrangement to be his personal physician and later picked him to be his doctor during 50 sold-out concert dates at London’s O2 Arena.

The trial of the lawsuit has been an emotional roller-coaster for Katherine Jackson, who has sat through much of the testimony and could be seen sometimes crying, sometimes smiling as witnesses recounted their days with her superstar son and the circumstances of his death.

Her testimony will wrap up the plaintiff’s case in the trial. Jackson family attorney, Panish, presented a series of witnesses in hopes of convincing the six-man, six-woman jury that AEG Live executives were pushing Jackson to the limit, were aware that the singer had a prescription drug problem and were responsible for hiring Murray.

In recent days, testimony has focused on financial matters as Panish laid the groundwork for jurors on the issue of damages. Over several days on the stand, accountant Arthur Erk testified for the plaintiffs that Jackson could have earned up to $1.5 billion if he had completed the London concert series and taken the show on tour worldwide and set up a residency in Las Vegas.

But Erk acknowledged under questioning from AEG Live attorneys that Jackson had not formally signed on for any shows beyond the 50 concerts in London.

It was unclear how long Katherine Jackson would be on the stand. Panish told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos that given Jackson’s age, she would need to take regular breaks during her testimony.

Panish indicated that his questioning of Jackson would take the entire morning session and stretch into at least some of the afternoon.

She will be the fourth member of the Jackson family to testify in the trial. Michael Jackson’s oldest son, 16-year-old Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. — known as Prince, testified last month. The late singer’s nephews, Taj and T.J., have also testified.

The singer’s only daughter, 15-year-old Paris, remains hospitalized following a June 5 suicide attempt. Portions of her videotaped deposition were shown to jurors during the trial.

Fred Shuster | City News Service