The promoters of Michael Jackson's doomed last tour should pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to the late pop icon's family over his 2009 death, a lawyer has said in closing arguments.
In a heartstrings-tugging final presentation wrapping up a five-month trial, attorney Brian Panish urged jurors to award USD 85 million to each of the star's three children and USD 35 million to his mother in so-called non-economic damages, such as the loss of love and comfort.
On top of that were economic damages, for which he did not set a figure, but cited analyses suggesting that the self-styled King of Pop could have made up to $1.6 million if he had lived and pursued a comeback world tour.
In the day's most arresting moment, he played a 15-minute video compilation of Jackson's hits, including "Thriller" and the star moonwalking to "Billie Jean," combined with home-movie clips of the singer playing with his children.
"That I think is the best evidence of whether Mr. Jackson could have sold tickets," he said after the extended video, which left some of the dozens of fans in court sobbing and hugging each other.
Panish insisted however he wasn't trying to play on the jury's emotions. "We're not looking for sympathy, we're looking for justice," he told the trial, which moved to a larger 300-person capacity courtroom for its final stage.
Presiding judge Yvette Palazuelos unexpectedly ruled that the final few days of the trial, which started in April, can be televised.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol at his rented mansion outside Los Angeles, where he was rehearsing for the "This is It" shows at London's 02 Arena. He was 50 years old.
Dr. Conrad Murray, a cardiologist, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a criminal trial in 2011 for giving the drug to the star -- who suffered from chronic insomnia -- to help him sleep. Murray was jailed for four years.
In the civil trial, the singer's mother Katherine Jackson, 83, alleges that AEG Live negligently hired an inappropriate and incompetent doctor and missed a series of red flags about his failing health in the run-up to his death.
"They chose not to check anything about Dr. Murray's background .. They chose to run the risk, to make a huge profit, and they lost and they're responsible," said Panish.
"AEG wanted the King of Pop in their arena in London. They would do whatever it took to get him on stage... They were so excited about how much money they were going to make," he added.
"They knew what they were getting. Now they want to come in and deny it.