LOS ANGELES (AP) — A chef who worked for Michael Jackson has described the home lives of the children during the final months of the singer's life, including what she said was his daughter's last birthday party.
Kai Chase told jurors hearing a lawsuit filed by Jackson's mother against concert promoter AEG Live LLC that Jackson was a hands-on father who often played with his children. Katherine Jackson's lawsuit lists the singer's three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, as plaintiffs and claims the concert promoter failed to properly investigate the doctor convicted of giving the singer a fatal dose of anesthetic in June 2009.
AEG denies it hired the doctor or pushed the entertainer to rehearse for his final series of comeback concerts titled "This Is It."
On the stand, Chase said Jackson made sure the children kept a healthy diet and got plenty of sleep for school sessions.
She described an April birthday party for Jackson's only daughter, Paris, in which she said the singer hired a private circus for his children. The Cirque du Soleil-style show featured men on stilts and a woman performing in a giant balloon, Chase said.
Paris Jackson, who was turning 11, adored her father and Chase helped decorate a room filled with posters and photos of the "Thriller" singer. The singer's music was played throughout the party.
Chase, who continues to work for Jackson's mother and his children, said that was the final birthday party that Paris Jackson has had.
"Paris hasn't had any birthdays since," Chase said. "She hasn't wanted to celebrate since."
Michael Jackson was fiercely protective of his children's privacy while alive, often shielding their faces in public with masks.
Chase, who testified during Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial, described for civil jurors the routines inside Jackson's rented mansion in the months before his death.
She said Jackson wouldn't allow his children to eat sweets and made sure they went to bed early so they would be alert for tutors who instructed them. Chase described Jackson as a prankster who ate meals with his children, exchanging jokes and stories.
Paris Jackson would often write notes for her dad on a chalkboard sitting in the kitchen that Chase used to list a menu of the day's meals. One message from Jackson's daughter shown to jurors read, "I love daddy" and "Smile it's free."
Chase described the close bond Jackson and his children shared, telling jurors the youngsters would run to their father when he came into a room. "They would take off like lightning," she said, hugging their father's ankles and legs.
If jurors determine AEG Live is liable for Jackson's death, they will have to determine any damages awarded to his mother and his children.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP