Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Michael Jackson • AEG Lawsuit

The insurers of Michael Jackson's ill-fated "This Is It" London comeback concerts have asked a judge to nullify a $17.5 million dollar policy taken out by promoters, saying they were never told that the singer was taking powerful drugs. Underwriters at Lloyds of London filed a lawsuit against AEG Live and Jackson's company in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, asking a judge to solve the insurance dispute almost two years after the "Thriller" singer's death. Jackson, 50, died in Los Angeles on June 25th, 2009 after rehearsing for the upcoming series of 50 concerts in London. Authorities said he died of a massive dose of the anesthetic propofol and a cocktail of other sedatives and painkillers. Jackson's personal doctor is scheduled to stand trial in September on charges of giving the singer a fatal dose of propofol as a sleep aid. The insurance policy was taken out to cover the cancellation or postponement of the London concerts in the case of the death, accident or illness of Jackson.

The lawsuit claimed that AEG, who hired Jackson's physician Dr. Conrad Murray, failed to disclose the singer's medical history to the insurers "including, but not limited to, his apparent prescription drug use and/or drug addiction." The lawsuit further states that AEG or Jackson or his company knew but did not disclose that Jackson was taking propofol— an anesthetic that is usually restricted to hospital use ahead of surgery. It adds that attempts to resolve the dispute with AEG Live outside the courts have failed. "Underwriters therefore request that the policy be declared null and void." All of which is interesting because, when the media speculated in early 2009 as to whether Jackson was fit enough to deliver a fifty night residency, many noting that the singer had shunned a London court appearance in relation to his dispute with Sheikh Abdulla the previous year supposedly because of ill health, AEG insisted doctors and insurers had given the singer the all clear health wise.

AEG made a claim on its insurance policy with Lloyd’s shortly after Jackson’s death. But, Lloyd’s says it has been requesting more information about the late singer’s health, and his personal medic Conrad Murray, since late 2009, to no avail. AEG is yet to respond to the lawsuit, though a spokesman for the Jackson estate was dismissive of the insurer’s claims. The estate’s legal rep Howard Weitzman told The Wrap that the Lloyd’s lawsuit was “nothing more than an insurance company trying to avoid paying a legitimate claim by the insured”. Whatever happens with lawsuit, it seems certain Lloyd’s will resist paying up until after the Conrad Murray trial, due to take place in September, especially as Murray’s legal reps have indicated they might claim Jackson administered the lethal shot of propofol himself, maybe in a bid to commit suicide, a fact which would presumably also have the potential to void any insurance policy.

AEG, of course, recovered a sizable part of the money it had invested in "This Is It" at the time of Jackson’s death— the majority of which wasn’t insured at all— by turning backstage footage of rehearsals for the show into the "This Is It" movie. The insurer says that the insurance policy relating to "This Is It" is void because AEG Live misrepresented Jackson’s health at the outset. The live music giant, Lloyd’s alleges, claimed that Jackson had not received any medical treatment, other than cosmetic surgery, since 2005. AEG Live, which is privately held, did not return calls for comment.

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