LOS ANGELES (AP) — The promoter of Michael Jackson's ill-fated series of comeback shows created a conflict of interest with the singer's physician when it negotiated terms of his deal, an expert testifying for the superstar's mother told a jury on Monday.
David Berman told jurors hearing a negligent hiring lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live LLC that the company should not have negotiated with Jackson's physician without notifying the singer's representatives of the discussion.
The former head of Capitol Records and high-level positions at several other record companies is being paid to testify for Katherine Jackson in her lawsuit against the concert company.
Asked whether it was appropriate for AEG Live to attempt to hire a doctor on Jackson's behalf, Berman responded, "I believe that it's highly inappropriate. It is highly unusual."
Berman retired from the music industry in 2001 to become an expert witness for music industry-related lawsuits. He said he had never heard of a situation in which a tour promoter hired a doctor on behalf of an artist.
Berman said he believed that music companies owe a higher obligation to artists than to music buyers or concert goers and, in this instance, AEG failed Jackson.
He was shown emails in which a tour accountant traded emails with Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, without including any of the singer's representatives.
Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011, was never paid his $150,000 per month fee for working with Jackson. The superstar died from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol before signing Murray's contract.
AEG denies it hired Murray. The company's executives and lawyers have said the company was merely advancing Jackson the money to pay Murray, and a valid contract never existed.
The company's lawyers have yet to question Berman but already have objected to his expertise. An AEG Live defense attorney has noted that Berman was never a tour producer or promoter — functions that AEG Live was serving as during preparations for Jackson's comeback shows.
Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos reminded jurors on Monday that they will ultimately decide whether AEG Live hired Murray.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP
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