The life and death of Michael Jackson will be played out once again in a Los Angeles court on Monday as a jury hears opening statements in the wrongful death suit brought by Jackson's family against concert organiser AEG Live.
The $40bn civil trial is expected to last three months. Singers Prince and Diana Ross, producer Quincy Jones and fitness guru and actor Lou Ferrigno are among the potential witnesses. The singer's ex-wives, Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe and two of his children, Prince, 16 and Paris, 15, are also expected to testify.
The lawsuit, brought by Jackson's 82-year-old mother Katherine on behalf of the singer's three children, accuses privately-held AEG Live of negligence in hiring Dr Conrad Murray as Jackson's personal physician.
In 2011, Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and given a four-year prison sentence for administering the powerful anesthetic propofol to Jackson as a sleep aid.
The suit pitches the Jacksons against the second-largest concert promoter in the world, one owned by Christian billionaire and arch conservative Philip Anschutz. Jackson's lawyers have clashed with AEG as they have attempted to depose Anschutz.
Jackson died just two weeks before his This Is It comeback concerts were to debut at London's O2 arena in 2009.
Katherine Jackson and her lawyers claim that AEG Live hired, supervised and controlled Murray and put desire for profits ahead of the star's health.
"AEG had legal duties to Michael Jackson to treat him safely and to not put him in harm's way. But AEG, despite its knowledge of Michael Jackson's physical condition, breached those duties by putting its desire for massive profits from the tour over the health and safety of Michael Jackson," their complaint alleges.
In emails sent days before Jackson's death, and expected to be presented in court, concert promoter Kenny Ortega warned AEG Live president Randy Phillips that Jackson was "trembling, rambling and obsessing".
In the emails, first obtained by the Daily News, Ortega wrote: "I honestly felt if I had encouraged or allowed him on stage last night he could have hurt himself." Phillips responded: "It is critical that neither you, me, or anyone around this show become amateur psychiatrists or physicians." He added that he was in touch with Murray and had "immense respect" for the doctor.
AEG Live contend that Michael Jackson hired the doctor and it had no responsibility for how he treated Jackson. Last month AEG Live won legal arguments to raise Jackson's 2005 child abuse case at the trial, as it may be relevant to the singer's history of prescription drug abuse.
Murray found Jackson not breathing in his bed in a rented mansion in Los Angeles on 25 June 2009. He was pronounced dead at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
While the family is seeking $40bn if AEG Live is found liable, the jury would ultimately decide any award based on the potential earnings of Michael Jackson had he lived past his 50th birthday.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010