Michael Jackson’s wrongful death civil trial kicks off in Los Angeles

A civil trial over Michael Jackson’s death began Tuesday in Los Angeles, starting with jury selection for the high profile case.

The deceased pop-star’s mother, Katherine, has filed suit against AEG Live, the promoting company behind the set of 50 London concerts Jackson was to perform. The suit claims that the promoters acted in negligence when they hired Dr. Conrad Murray as Jackson’s personal physician on tour and that the group is ultimately responsible for the singer’s demise. AEG has responded saying the substance abuse issues that led to the pop star’s death were preexisting conditions long before the tour and they did not hire Murray.

Murray was previously convicted for involuntary manslaughter when evidence proved that he had given Jackson a power anesthetic called propofol that caused the singer’s death in 2009. It was given by Murray to address Jackson’s sleeping problems on the tour.

Official jury selection began on Tuesday and is expected to last several days. Questions for jurors included their opinion of Jackson’s music, their knowledge of him and his albums and their ability to remain in service for a lengthy trial. The trial is expected to last several months and will feature the emotional testimonies of Murray, Jackson’s mother and his two children, Prince and Paris.

While the Jacksons approve the use of television cameras in the courtroom to document and air the trial, AEG has expressed their disapproval and have gone as far as to request gag orders from the judge to prevent attorneys from speaking to reporters throughout the course of the trial.

The suit, which is filed expressly against AEG Live and not Murray, seeks more than $40 billion dollars in damages for the cited loss in Jackson’s earnings, a claim that AEG considers ludicrous because the pop star’s career had been less successful in previous years. The company is expected to defend its actions by stating that Murray was not hired by AEG, but directly by Jackson himself, thus shifting the responsibility to the now deceased pop star. Additionally, AEG will point to Jackson’s colorful history, including allegations of child molestation and odd behavior, to imply substance usage, which could have contributed to Jackson’s death.

The case was nearly thrown out of court, before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos found that that Jackson family had presented sufficient evidence to raise a wrongful death suit and to hold AEG responsible for Murray’s negligence and Jackson’s resulting death.

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