AEG – Jackson trial DAY 16. A RACE FOR THE INSURANCE while the ship is sinking
I wanted to write about the AEG/Michael Jackson contract but Shawn Trell’s testimony is so big a thing that I can’t even say which of its points is more important – the farce AEG are playing over their contracts, Murray as their marionette, their big race for the insurance or other things like for example, AEG’s plans to pay $5mln to Frank Dileo for a statement that Michael agreed to cover all production costs.
With so much to say I decided to select only one thing and then slowly go over each of them. But first let me share some personal impressions of the attorneys for both parties.
Ms. Stebbins is methodical and has coached her AEG clients very well. She sounds like the one who knows all the questions we’ve been asking about the AEG/Michael Jackson contract and discusses each of them with Shawn Trell. I am far from thinking that she is familiar with the posts in this blog, so the only other reason I see for both of us talking about exactly the same points is that they themselves know that these points are the weakest in their contract and therefore need an explanation.
Mr. Panish’s strongest point are AEG’s emails which speak for themselves and which are so irrefutable evidence against AEG that the trial sessions may be closed and the jury sent home right now. We’ve heard enough about the AEG neglect for Michael going hand in hand with their playing tough love on him and about their contempt and arrogance towards him in combination with sweet and revolting lies told to the press. We’ve also learned that Conrad Murray was their toy doctor mostly used by AEG for bullying Michael rather than for allowing him to perform his primary duties.
And from the AEG own admission we also know that the complex of the above ‘services’ rendered to the Artist was to be fully paid for by Jackson including the expenses on all those who were told by AEG to play tough love on him.
In examining AEG’s witnesses Mr. Panish employs the tactics of jumping from one subject to another hoping that he will catch the AEG bosses unawares, but catching them unawares is impossible – they’ve been trained too hard for it and when they don’t know what to say they simply “don’t recall”. So jumping from one thing to another only creates difficulties in perception and may only confuse the jury by not enabling them to form a clear picture of AEG lies.
This is why the task I set for myself was putting some regularity into the facts scattered here and there and trying to create a timeline which will enable us to see the logic of the events. And to do so we need to start with something different than the contract – we need to start where AEG started which was the Insurance. To me it sounds like one of the crucial factors.
Trell says that even before they started working on the contract, in November 2008 he contacted the insurance broker Bob Taylor for studying the insurance market and see who would offer the biggest coverage for cancellation of a Michael Jackson tour (non-appearance insurance). What a great start it was to start the tour preparation with preparations for its cancelling! It does show AEG ‘s frame of mind and probably intentions, doesn’t it?
The maximum capacity offered was from Lloyds and their final sum to cover the production expenses was $17,5 mln to be paid in case of cancelling the show due to accident or illness.
In the previous post I said that Trell admitted to Panish that at some point the insurance had to be doubled:
Q. And due to the outstanding production costs, the amount of the insurance was to double?
A. I believe yes.
This makes me think that the initial offer from Lloyds could be twice as little (around $9 mln).
At that stage there were evidently no problems with covering Michael’s illness as from the media we know that they were insuring the first 10 shows only, however to issue a policy even for this limited number of shows the insurers requested a medical examination, blood and urine tests and medical records for 5 years (yes, the email from Bob Taylor says these records were required at the very beginning of their negotiations).
The medical examination is not a regular thing to do in order to obtain an insurance, but for Michael Jackson they wanted it due to media negative reports. Bob Taylor informed Shawn Trell of the insurers’ requirements on January 7th, 2009:
A It’s a Bob Taylor e-mail.
Q. To you?
Q. Saying prior to speaking with the carriers that we ask the artist to attend a medical with a Doctor. It should be a Full medical, blood and urine tests, medical records for five years. You were advised of that January 7th, 2009, correct?
The doctor was selected by the insurers and had to be flown from New York at the fee of $10,000. The fee was split between the broker and AEG. Trell said he wanted a doctor from Los Angeles as they tried to cut the cost in the interests of Michael Jackson because ultimately it was him who was to cover the expense (just as everything else in the AEG contract with MJ) – however knowing AEG’s ways I would advise you not to fall too much for AEG’s “best intentions”.
Dr. Slavitt is an E.N.T. doctor which stands for ears, nose and throat specialist. Bob Taylor characterized him as someone who was ready to close his eyes on some of Michael’s health problems to help AEG to obtain the insurance:
Q. And this surgeon is someone who works with insurers, right? A That’s what Mr. Taylor represented, yes. Q. And: ‘he was supportive of client’s position should difficulties occur.’ did I read that right? A Yes. Q. And the client would be AEG, correct? A I presume that that’s what he meant, yes.
The test was on February 4, 2009, and Trell says he did not see the results of the tests (“of course not”) but knows that Michael Jackson passed it with flying colors.
Though even one examination was not a regular thing to do for obtaining insurance and was something extraordinary, on March 20, 2009 Mr. Silcock working for Bob Taylor informed Paul Gongaware that ‘insurers will require a further medical examination to be carried out by their nominated doctor” and “they may restrict illness cover until this examination has taken place”.
The wording that they ‘may restrict illness’ in case there is no second physical makes me think that previously illness was covered (or planned to be covered), and the only reason for these changes could be the fact that AEG increased the number of shows from the agreed 10 to 50 and announced it at around March 15th.
From Trell’s explanations of the problem you get the impression that the additional coverage for illness was somehow connected with the increase in production costs. However this could have effect only on the sum of the insurance, which was indeed doubled at some point, and not the perils covered by it. Also the problem of increasing production costs arose much later –when the preparations for the show were already well under way.
But by March 20th when Bob Taylor informed them that the insurers may restrict their coverage on illness, AEG could absolutely not deplete the agreed budget of $7,5 million as they hardly began any preparations for the show at all.
Illness was evidently planned to be covered by Lloyds, but only until the moment AEG announced 50 shows. And on the date when the email arrived (March 20th) the increase in the number of shows could be the only reason why the insurers suddenly informed AEG of the restrictions in their policy:
Panish. Let’s go to the next page. March 20th, Mr. Silcock to Mr. Gongaware. Mr. Silcock works for Mr. Taylor, right?
A That’s correct.
Q. (reading from email) – ‘insurers will require a Further medical examination to be carried out by their nominated doctor.’ in other words, this is not someone that’s going to be client friendly; this is someone that the insurance company wants, correct?
A Their nominated doctor is the same thing to me as Dr. Slavit.
…Q. (continues reading email) – ‘they may restrict illness cover or death from illness cover, until this examination has taken place.’ did I read that right?
A short piece from Paul Gongaware’s testimony is exactly about the same thing. On March 25 Randy Phillips sent to Gongaware an enigmatic email which said that they would have to pull the plug on the show adding “I’ll explain”:
Q Okay. Let’s look at exhibit 130. March 25th, 2009 email. (shows a copy). Now, if we start — let’s see. There’s one email at the top. Let’s just look at that real quick. And that’s you receiving this email from Randy Phillips, correct?
A Which one are you referring to, sir?
Q The one that says: Paul Gongaware, 3-25-2009, 9:57:01, Fwd: Catch up, correct?
A Yeah. I got it.
Q Okay. And then at — so you — read to us what you wrote, sir. Or, excuse me. Read us what Mr. Phillips wrote to you.
A (reads email) — We need to pull the plug now. I will explain.
Q Did he explain that to you, sir?
A I don’t recall.
Since Gongaware would not explain, let me offer my own explanation then. The email is dated 5 days after the email from the insurance broker breaking the unpleasant news and Randy Phillips realizes that either a second medical examination will be impossible due to Michael’s deteriorating health, or Michael will not agree to it, or they will not be able to provide medical records for the 5 years demanded by Lloyds, and all this means that they will be insured only against accidents but not the artist’s illness, and without it AEG is not interested and is pulling the plug.
Later some communication with Lloyds continued but by April 20 it became absolutely clear that Lloyds was not going to cover Michael Jackson’s illness unless he submitted himself for another medical examination in London:
Q. And then on April 20th, or is that — April 20th, Mr. Woolley tells you that: we have no coverage against MJ’s sickness unless and until MJ submits to another medical in london. Correct?
Q. And then you write to Mr. Taylor on May 28th. …you write: ‘bob, we really need to get that medical done.’ right?
As I already said AEG most probably knew that Michael was unwell or they suspected him of taking drugs or they realized the effect of the stress they subjected him to – in short they were aware of his health problems, irrespective of what exactly they thought about it. How do we know that they knew? We can guess about it from Shawn Trell’s hurried efforts to set the physical examination on a date much earlier than the agreed July 6th. He began talking about arranging the exam in Los Angeles as early as May 29. And what other reasons could they have for speeding up the process except the fact that they knew that Michael’s health was deteriorating?
Q. I know there was schedule for that exam in London. So I want to show you an email where you wanted to have the exam take place sooner, is that right?
A. Yes, I am inquiring if it’s possible to change the date of the exam.
Q. These emails are May 29th and 30th.
Another big concern of AEG was provision of Michael’s 5 year medical records. Considering that the insurers requested them as early as January 2009 I wonder if AEG tried to approach Dr. Metzger and Dr. Klein for those records and what came of it?
Q. (reading email) ‘and given the huge amount of speculation of the media regarding the artist’s health, they feel that if they are to consider providing illness cover on this particular artist, they must have a very thorough medical report.’ that was your understanding the day before Mr. Jackson’s death, correct?
Q. And they figure that you, AEG and the broker, have failed to provide sufficient information, correct?
A It says that they feel insufficient information has been forthcoming, yes.
Q. And that this includes the 5 year medical history of Mr. Jackson, correct?
Let us note that all this worry was not about Michael’s health but about the money which they were to lose in case he fell ill and they had no insurance. Of course they had a reserve variant of obtaining Michael’s assets but people like AEG are not above having both as they actually demonstrated it after Michael’s death. They got $40mln from the Estate but it did not stop them from claiming insurance from Lloyds too. Some people simply cannot have enough and hence all the fuss over that illness insurance.
On the other hand so much worry about not having the illness insurance could arise only in case they saw that something was wrong with Michael.
By June 23d AEG’s worries about their money not covered by insurance escalated to such a degree that their communication over illness coverage was practically non-stop. Moreover they even began talking about obtaining life insurance for Jackson (so AEG did have an idea that Michael could die?).
On June 23 Trell asked Bob Taylor for an update on life insurance which tells us that the issue was raised even earlier, most probably after the June 19th fateful rehearsal when Kenny Ortega sent Michael home. It is obvious that AEG’s biggest worry was that Jackson might die with no insurance covering the money spent:
Q. And then you say: ‘any update on the availability of term insurance?’ right?
Q. And term insurance is life insurance, isn’t it, sir?
Q. So within two days of Mr. Jackson’s death, you were inquiring about the availability of life insurance, correct?
A Yes. I had inquired about alternatives that might be available with bob taylor.
Trell says they did not obtain life insurance but were just ‘enquiring’ about it, however even their plans to get it and the timing for it speak volumes to us.
Let us also note the incredible fact that the enquiry for a separate insurance policy covering death came exactly at the time when Randy Phillips was telling Kenny Ortega that they should not ‘become amateur psychiatrists or physicians’ for Jackson and that there were no reasons for worry.
Panish made Trell go through every statement of the now famous Kenny Ortega email. Trell said he knew the words ‘tough love’ but pretended he didn’t know that tough love means bullying or intentional pressurizing. For him it depends on the “context” of it, you know.
No wonder Kenny Ortega spoke in his email about a psychiatrist – he realized that all these ‘tough love’ games, played around rehearsals which Michael was not even obliged to attend resulted in so grave stress for Michael that due to all this ‘emotional stuff’ he would simply not be able to perform.
Part of the tough love game was threatening Michael with ‘pulling the plug’ which seems to be a constant motif with AEG. The first time Randy Phillips spoke about it to Gongaware on March 25 and later the same was said directly in Jackson’s face in June 2009, but all this did not prevent out dear old Phillips from saying under oath at Murray’s trial that he heard the expression the first time and he does not know what Kenny Ortega was talking about in his email:
Q. Ok, so this is Mr. Ortega writing to Mr. Phillips; right?
A. Right? Correct.
Q. And Mr. Ortega is saying: now that we’ve brought the doctor into the fold … Did I read that right, that’s what he says, yes. That means the doctor is working with them;
A. The them is who?
Q. Mr. Ortega and Mr. Phillips.
A. Working with? I don’t understand the reference.
Q. Do you know what it means to bring someone in the fold, Sir?
A. Could mean involved.
Q. Ok, involved.
Q. Dr. Murray was involved.
Q. Right? And we saw that other email where Mr. Woolley says Dr. Murray and Mr. Phillips were responsible to get Mr. Jackson to rehearsals; right?
AEG Objection: misstates the document.
The Judge: overruled.
A. Could you ask it again, please?
Q. If I can. We just looked at the email about … From Mr. Woolley to Mr. Taylor about the responsibilities of . Murray and Mr. Phillips; right?
Q. And that means they were together, Phillips and Murray, in that email; right?
Q. In this email, Phillips and Ortega have brought Dr. Murray into the fold; right?
A. That’s what Kenny says here, yes.
Q. And you haven’t talked to Kenny about this; right?
Q. And it says: and we’ve played the tough love now-or-never card. Do you know what that means, tough love? Means?
A. Yeah, I have an idea what tough love means. And then, now or never. You know what that I think it’s self-explanatory.
Q. Do you think that when you tell someone we played tough love, and you tell them now or never, that puts pressure on them?
A. I think that depends on the context, circumstances, facts, nature of the discussion, the people involved, whether somebody feels pressured or whether, you know
Q. Do you know …something else. Do you know, Sir… If Michael Jackson was pressured and psychologically needed to be evaluated?
A. No, I don’t know that.
Q. Mr. Ortega certainly thought that; right?
A. I believe he states that somewhere in an
Q. Ok, and you told us that the only time you ever heard there was any issue with Mr. Jackson was June 19th when you thought he had flu symptoms; right?
A. That’s my understanding, yes.
Q. And you’re not A. Doctor; right?
A. That’s right.
Q. And do people, when they have the flu, normally start obsessing?
A. I don’t know.
A. I don’t know.
Q. Ok, so then he says: my concern … And I’m going to skip the other part … Is that the artist may be unable to rise to the occasion due to real emotional stuff. Did I read that right?
A. That’s what Mr. Ortega says, yes.
Q. And real emotional stuff has nothing to do with the flu, does it, Sir?
Q. And Mr. Ortega believed that Mr. Jackson was quite weak and fatigued; right?
A. This is referring to the 19th, yes. This email is at 2:00 in the morning on the 20th, so he’s referring to the 19th.
Q. 2:00 in the morning, he must have been pretty worried, huh?
A. I don’t know what hours Mr. Ortega keeps. They might have rehearsed pretty late or been at the venue late that night. I have no idea.
Q. Did you know by this time that Alif Sankey and Karen Faye had expressed concern that Michael Jackson was going to die?
Q. You never heard that?
Q. First time you heard it today?
A. When you just said it just now. I heard it in prior testimony in this case.
Q. They were right, weren’t they?
A. That Mr. Jackson passed away? Yes, he did.
Q. That he was going to die?
A. He did.
Q. And then right here it says: finally, it’s important for everyone to know, I believe, that he really wants this ... That’s what you and Ms. Stebbins went over; right?
Q. Let’s read the next sentence. Why don’t you read that for us?
A. It would shatter him, break his heart, if we pulled the plug.
Q. You know, Sir… There was discussions at this time about pulling the plug on the whole thing, wasn’t there?
A. I don’t know, you know, why Kenny is referencing that there. I don’t know. I was not a party to any discussions about ending the tour.
Q. Do you think Mr. Ortega was just making that up, Sir?
A. You’d have to ask Mr. Ortega what he meant about this statement.
Q. Fair enough. It says: he’s terribly frightened it’s all going to go away. Mr. Jackson was feeling pressure and was frightened, wasn’t he, Sir?
A. This just says he was frightened. Doesn’t say he was feeling pressure and frightened, just says frightened.
Q. So you as the person …
The Judge: wait. Let him finish.
Q. Did you finish your answer, your question was, he’s pressured and frightened it’s all going to go away. This sentence from Kenny says he’s frightened, is all it says. So as the person most knowledgeable from AEG about Mr. Jackson’s condition, did you learn that he felt pressured?
Q. So as far as you know, Mr. Jackson was never pressured at any time during the preparation for the This Is It tour, and he never felt pressured; correct?
A. The former question I … You know, the answer is no. The latter, I have no idea what he felt.
Q. But you said no one ever pressured him; right?
A. That’s my understanding.
Three hours before Ortega, at 11 p.m. on June 19th the same concerns were voiced by stage manager “Bugsy” (John Hougdahl) who also sent a SOS signal to Phillips and said that he had seen Michael’s health dramatically deteriorate for the past 8 weeks. In April he was able to do multiple 360 degrees spins but “if he tried it now he would fall on his ass”.
He also speaks of a need for a ‘shrink’ though Michael was not having a psychiatric problem – he was simply bullied, terrorized and ground down by AEG and had it not been for this factor he would have been perfectly okay:
Q. … he says: “he’s a Basket case, and kenny was concerned he would embarrass himself or worse yet get hurt, right? A That’s what he says, yes. Q. And that was sent to the two people you said had the most involvement with the “This Is It” tour, right?
Q. And this was within six days of Mr. Jackson dying, correct?
Q. And then he says, “the company’s rehearsing, but doubt is pervasive,” right?
A That’s what he says, yes.
…Q. Is Bugzy writing to Mr. Phillips and Mr. Gongaware about the … Being a drama queen, that Michael got sent home, he’s a basket case, doubt is pervasive. We talked about that already, right? A. Right Q. Let’s go to the next email. Now we’re on the 20th, let’s see what’s said here. A. I’ve got to say I don’t even understand the chain here because at the bottom, there’s an e-mail on the 19th, then there’s an e-mail on the 20th, and then above that, there’s e-mails from the 19th. Q. Well, that’s the way they were produced by AEG, Sir. If you see the bottom, that’s the way they gave it to us. I don’t have access to your computers. Now, it says here this is Mr. Hougdahl writing to Mr. Phillips and Mr. Gongaware on June 19th close to 11:00 o’clock at night, ten minutes to 11:00. A. That’s correct. … Q. Let’s see what happened there. Now, this is Mr. Hougdahl telling Mr. Phillips, right? A. Correct. Q. And he’s saying now, three minutes to 11:00, my laymen’s degree tells me he needs a shrink to get him mentally prepared to get onstage. Did I read that right? A. Yes. Q. That’s within six days of the death, right? A. Correct Q. Did Mr. Phillips tell you that he received any information like this? A. No, I don’t recall him telling me that. Q. And then he says, and then he needs a trainer to get him in physical shape, Kobe’s should be available, did he tell you that? A. No Q. And then Mr. Hougdahl says to Mr. Phillips, I have watched him deteriorate in front of my eyes for over the last eight weeks, did you see that, Sir? A. I see it in the e-mail, yes. Q. Did Mr. Phillips tell you and, by the way, Mr. Hougdahl, what’s his position? What’s his title? A. I don’t recall off the top of my head, maybe stage manager…stage director… Q. But you know him, right? A. Yes. Q. And did Mr. Phillips tell you that Mr. Hougdahl is at rehearsal all the time A. That, I don’t know. Q. Didn’t Mr. Phillips, tell you that he received an e-mail that says that Mr. Hougdahl, watched Michael deteriorate in front of his eyes over the last eight weeks? A. I was not aware that bugz had said that, no. Q. Would that be evidence that Mr. Phillips is notified that there’s a deterioration of Mr. Jackson’s condition for eight weeks? A. This e-mail is an indication from John Hougdahl to Randy Phillips that Mr. Hougdahl feels that way, yes. Q. Next sentence… Michael Jackson, was able to do multiple 360 spins in April. He’d fall on his ass if he tried it now, did I read that right? A. You read it correctly Q. Did Mr. Phillips tell you that? A. No, he didn’t. Q. And, Sir, in the last eight weeks, Dr. Murray had been treating Mr. Jackson, hadn’t he Sir? A. I have no idea what Dr. Murray was doing, for the time period that you just referenced with Michael Jackson. Q. Well, what was the date that Dr. Murray’s final contract was supposed to start? A. His draft agreement had an effective date as of May 1st.
When “trouble on the front” was communicated to Branca (who we hear was hired several days before that – on June 17th or 18th), the next day after the email, on June 20 Branca responded with a suggestion to provide a right therapist and enquired whether substance abuse was involved. His reaction makes it clear that he knew of some ‘past instances’ but on the other hand all of us know about the ‘past instances’ as in 1993 Michael openly declared them himself. Evidently for confidentiality reasons Branca does not want to discuss the matter by emails but suggests talking on the phone.
No one answered him. Trell says that Randy Phillips did not even tell him about the existence of such an offer for help:
Q. And then we’re on that other subject that we talked about yesterday, “trouble at the front,” correct?
Q. And this e-mail is marked ‘confidential,’ right?
A It is.
Q. And the next day Mr. Branca is telling you, your people, that: “I have the right therapist, spiritual advisor, substance-abuse counselor who could help. Recently helped Mike Tyson get sober and paroled. Do we know whether there’s a substance issue involved? Perhaps better discussed on phone.” did I read that right?
Q. “better discussed on phone,” does that mean not send e-mails?
A I think that’s self-evident. I think it says it’s better discussed on the telephone.
Q. Did Mr. Phillips tell you about this e-mail when you interviewed him before you testified about Michael Jackson’s physical condition before he died?
A No, because I asked Mr. Phillips for his observations – his personal observations. Through other due diligence I came to learn about these e-mails.
Q. Ok, so Mr. Phillips never told you about this e-mail, correct?
Some preliminary conclusions now.
Bugsy’s and Kenny Ortega’s panicky emails sent together within a span of three hours on June 20 show that by then Michael’s terrible condition became visible to almost everyone.
It is no use arguing now that Michael died of Propofol of which AEG did not know, and that his thinness was reason or no reason for his death – what’s crucial here is that too many people saw Michael dying in front of their eyes, no one knew why, but some really wanted to help and invite top experts, however AEG was not interested and did not care and – the worst part of it – obligated everyone to not pay attention or become amateur physicians.
In short they did not provide help themselves and denied others the right to do it, and even forbade them to give any such help.
Five days before Michael died the realization that he was dying struck everyone as if by lightning. Even if we brush off Alif Sankey and Karen Faye as ‘impressionable women’, Kenny Ortega and stage director Bagsy were absolutely no ‘drama queens’ but even they began sending Phillips SOS signals from the sinking ship.
And what was Randy Phillips’ reaction?
He first approached Paul Gongaware with a question whether ‘it’ was chemical or physiological’ evidently thinking that Gongaware was the most knowledgeable guy due to his past experience with Michael.
Then he said to Gongaware that ‘Tim and I’ are going to see some person (?) not giving his name in the email. This person may be anyone – from Philip Anschutz to Tohme Tohme who mysteriously materialized in Michael’s life just a couple of days before he died.
In his reply Gongaware suggested that when Phillips went to see this person he should take the doctor with him. He also asked him why Conrad Murray was not with Michael at the June 19th rehearsal. Phillips answered that Conrad Murray was not a psychiatrist and he is not sure that he can be effective at this point.
If you come to think of it this Phillips’ answer is all we need to know about this case.
The email exchange between Phillips and Gongaware was taking place in the early hours of June 20th. Twelve hours later Randy Phillips will reply to Kenny Ortega that there is no need to worry, the doctor is extremely successful (in treating patients) and therefore no one should raise the issue of any outside medical help and play amateur doctors.
This is what Phillips said to Ortega.
But in reality he knew that Conrad Murray wasn’t qualified to handle Michael’s health problems as in a private exchange with Gongaware the same Phillips said that Murray could not be effective and there was no need even to invite him to a joint conversation with the mysterious person mentioned above as it won’t solve anything.
So despite realizing the gravity of the problem he left Michael in the hands of a doctor whom he himself thought not to be effective?
Q. Let’s talk about the one I referenced 6-20. We can put that one up. This is Mr. Phillips and Mr. Gongaware communicating, right?
Q. And this is at 1:52 am. In the morning, right?
A According to this, yes.
Q. Well, do you have any reason to believe that’s not accurate?
A No. I don’t have any reason to believe that’s not accurate.
Q. And it says, “Tim and I” –is that Tim Leiweke?
A I presume so.
Q. So the CEO of AEG and Mr. Phillips, the CEO of AEG Live, are going to see someone right?
Q. And who is that they’re going to see?
A I don’t know, sir.
Q. And it says: “I’m not sure what the problem is – chemical or psychological.” that was after Mr. Blanca’s e-mail –
A It actually says, “physiological.”
Q. I’m sorry. I apologize. Let me rephrase it. I’m sorry.
Q. Mr. Phillips is writing this to Mr. Gongaware, and he doesn’t know if the problem is chemical –that would be like substances; right?
Q. Or physiological. Do you know what “physiological” is?
A If it would pertain to your body.
Q. Ok. And then Mr. Gongaware is telling Mr. Phillips, “take the doctor with you.” that’s Dr. Murray, isn’t it, sir?
A I presume that’s who he was referring to, yes.
Q. So Mr. Gongaware is instructing the CEO to take the doctor with him to the meeting right?
A That’s what Paul is saying, yes.
Q. And then he wants to know why wasn’t he, the doctor, there last night the 19th right?
A He’s asking him that question, right.
Q. Because Mr. Jackson was a basket case, in bad shape and Mr. Gongaware wanted to know why wasn’t the doctor there with him, correct?
A Right. Mr. Jackson had a bad night on the 19th, and he’s asking that question, right.
Q. All right. Now, he also says, Phillips to Gongaware: “he’s not a Psychiatrist, so I’m not sure how effective he can be at this point.” that’s referring to Dr. Conrad Murray, isn’t it?
A I believe he is, yes.
Q. “obviously, getting him there is not the issue. It’s much deeper.” did I read that right, sir?
A You read that correctly.
Q. AEG Live and AEG the parent company were concerned about a deep issue with Mr. Jackson’s condition on June 20th, 2009 correct, sir?
The timeline of the events and the emails exchanged show that Phillips and the others at AEG were indeed concerned, only the measures they took were absolutely inadequate.
Randy Phillips approached Tim Leiweke, the CEO of the parent AEG company and said to him that they ‘had a real problem”:
Q. …Now, Mr. Leiweke is the CEO of AEG which is the largest entity, or the parent entity, in Los Angeles, correct?
A That’s right.
Q. And there’s nobody in Los Angeles above Mr. Leiweke, is there?
A At that time, no, there was not. No.
Q. And Mr. Phillips is telling the head guy from AEG that you, AEG “have a Real problem,” right?
A That’s what he says, yes.
Q. Would that raise a Red flag to you, sir, when the CEO of the subsidiary is telling the CEO of the parent company, “we have a Real problem here regarding our artist and his ability to perform?”
A Well, I think he recognized there was a Problem on the 19th.
And then, instead of giving Michael help Randy Phillips approached Lloyds for life insurance. ‘Big trouble’ for AEG of course means the risk of losing money and not the fact that Jackson was dying:
Q. And then you write on the 23rd of June, two days before Mr. Jackson’s death, to Mr. Taylor, right?
Q. And the subject is M.J., right?
Q. And then you say: ‘any update on the availability of term insurance?’ right?
Q. And term insurance is life insurance, isn’t it, sir?
Q. So within two days of Mr. Jackson’s death, you were inquiring about the availability of life insurance, correct?
A Yes. I had inquired about alternatives that might be available with Bob Taylor.
Q. So life insurance would be, if Mr. Jackson died, and you had a policy, you’d get money; right?
A We’d get the money that was owed to us by Michael Jackson.
Q. You’d get money, wouldn’t you, sir?
A If the policy paid out, we would receive it.
Q. Right. So within two days of his death, you were still trying to get life insurance on Mr. Jackson, right?
A I was just inquiring as to its availability. I don’t think any efforts were made to get it.
Indeed, they were only inquiring, but the timing for this enquiry tells us all we need to know about it.
And this timing makes us think that it is exactly because of that damned insurance that they denied Michael medical help and did not take him to hospital!
Taking him to hospital would be bad publicity and in case of bad publicity neither life insurance nor insurance for illness would be ever obtained!
The official AEG stance was that everything was absolutely fine and not a single word of Michael’s poor health should be leaked into the outside world.
So it was probably due to this official line from AEG that at the meeting on June 20th Conrad Murray who due to his financial vulnerability was absolutely in no position to dictate any terms to anyone at all, suddenly became rude to Ortega, practically told him to mind his own business and leave the matter of Michael’s health to him.
This would have been very uncharacteristic behavior for Murray unless he knew that his words were fully backed by AEG or were even prompted by them.
After the meeting Randy Phillips sent Kenny Ortega an email in confirmation of this approach where he stressed that it was not only important, but it was critical that no one raised the issue of Michael’s health, and that no one rendered Michael any medical help or sustained any conversation about the need for psychological help to him – at least this is how I understand the idea of not being ‘amateur psychiatrists or physicians’ for Jackson:
Q. Ok. I’m going to show that to you, sir. We’ll put that up. And this is an e-mail on June 20th, this is after the e-mails about Mr. Jackson being a basket case and being sent home, not to injure himself and such, right?
A It’s after that period, yes.
Q. And it’s also got that same caption “trouble at the front,” right?
Q. And in this e-mail –is this another e-mail that you reviewed to testify as a person most knowledgeable about Mr. Jackson’s physical condition at the time of rehearsals?
A This is an e-mail that I saw in connection with that testimony, yes.
Q. Did you think that Mr. Ortega was the type of person that was concerned about Mr. Jackson’s health?
A Yes, I think that’s a fair statement.
Q. Ok. And Mr. –Mr. Ortega had written on several occasions that we’ve discussed to Mr. Phillips worried about Mr. Jackson’s health, right?
Ms. Stebbins: objection; vague as to “several occasions.”
Mr. Trell: well, I was going to say I’m not sure what you mean by –by “several occasions,” but there were e-mails from Mr. Ortega to Mr. Phillips expressing concern over Michael Jackson’s health.
Mr. Panish: thank you.
Q. And this is Mr. Phillips writing back to Mr. Ortega in response to one of those e-mails I showed you earlier, right?
A Yes, it is.
Q. And Mr. Ortega was told by Mr. Phillips “it’s important –it’s critical that neither you, me or anyone around here become amateur psychiatrists or physicians,” right?
A Right, that’s what the first line says.
Q. And it says that he, Mr. Phillips, had had lengthy conversation with Dr. Murray, right?
Q. And he says “who I am gaining immense respect for as I get to deal with him more,” correct?
Q. So Mr. Phillips is dealing directly with Dr. Murray, right?
A He had a –it says he had a lengthy conversation with him, yes.
Q. But he says he’s gaining immense respect as he continues to deal with him more, right?
A That’s what that says.
Let me stop it for a second and draw your attention to the amazing fact that in a conversation with Phillips Conrad Murray evidently admitted that Michael was not physically equipped to perform ,but if we listen to him or Randy Phillips’ taking care of Michael’s needs would only hasten his decline!
They called it ‘discouraging’ Jackson. All this may be only a pretext for Phillips not paying attention to Michael but his words do sound like someone thinking that only a whip may encourage the Artist to go on working (while paying attention to his needs will make him lax):
Q. And he said that Michael is not all physically equipped to perform, and that to discourage him will hasten his decline, right?
Q. And then Mr. Phillips tells Mr. Ortega this doctor is extremely successful, parentheses,”we check everyone out, and does not need this gig, so he totally unbiased and ethical.” did I read that right, sir?
Q. So Mr. Ortega was the kind of person that you considered very concerned about Mr. Jackson’s health, right?
A There were certain points where he was very concerned about Mr. Jackson’s health, yes.
Q. He didn’t want Mr. Jackson to die, did he?
A Nobody did, sir.
Q. Ok. And he’s writing to Mr. Phillips saying “I’m concerned,” right?
Q. And in response to his concern, Mr. Phillips tells him “hey, don’t worry. This doctor is extremely successful,” correct?
A That’s what he says, yes.
Q. But nobody from AEG. Ever checked out Dr. Murray to see whether he was successful or not successful; isn’t that true, sir?
A That’s true.
Q. And then he says “don’t worry. We check everyone out.” did I read that right, sir?
A Well, I don’t think it says “don’t worry, we check everyone out,” but the parenthetical says “we check everyone out.”
Q. And, sir, that is a Flat-out lie, isn’t it, sir?
A I don’t know what Mr. Phillips thought or intended in saying or writing that sentence. That would be a question for Randy.
Trell is Senior Vice Presidend and General Counsel for AEG which means that he is the leading lawyer of the company. But he is washing his hands off what Randy Phillips is saying and his only comment on Phillips’ lies is that his statement is ‘inaccurate’. Shawn Trell is also the one who verified the answers of other AEG employees in their interrogatories as correct, so he is responsible for their lies if they are telling them. AEG lawyerd arranged quite a battle over this matter:
Q: Sir, you never checked out one single thing about Dr. Murray. You’ve already told me that, correct? A As of the date of this e-mail, that would have been correct.
Q. Yet Mr. Phillips, in response to somebody that cares about Mr. Jackson, that’s concerned about Mr. Jackson, makes a False statement to that person, doesn’t he, sir?
A Again, I don’t know what he thought or intended by that statement. You’d have to ask Mr. Phillips
Q. Well, sir, you’re the person most knowledgeable as designated from the company about the background or any investigation of Dr. Murray, aren’t you, sir?
A Yes. Q. And you testified under oath in your deposition that no one ever checked out Dr. Murray, correct? Ms. Stebbins: objection; misstates the testimony. Judge: overruled. A. we did not do a Background or credit check on Dr. Murray. Q.and you didn’t know whether he was successful or facing bankruptcy, did you? A No. Q. And Mr. Phillips –since you’re the person most knowledgeable, no one knows more than you in the company, right? A That’s right. Q. And Mr. Phillips making this statement, you know that’s a False statement, don’t you, sir? Ms. Stebbins: objection; argumentative, asked and answered. Judge: overruled. Mr. Trell: again, I know the statement is -is not accurate; but you’d have to speak with Mr. Phillips about what he thought or meant in saying it. I –I, obviously, didn’t speak it or write it. Q. Sir, is that the way they do business at AEG. Live; that the CEO makes statements to people that are concerned about an artist’s wellbeing that are not true? Ms. Stebbins: objection; argumentative. Judge: sustained. Q… at AEG. Live, is that acceptable conduct, for the CEOs to respond to somebody who is concerned about an artist’s physical well-being to say something that’s not true?
Ms. Stebbins: objection; argumentative.
Judge: sustained. Mr. Panish: on “argumentative”? All right.
Q. Sir, do you accept, as the person most knowledgeable from your company about this, that this is acceptable behavior by Mr. Phillips?
Ms. Stebbins: same objection.
Q.Did Mr. Phillips get disciplined or anyone talk to him about making these kind of false statements, sir?
Ms. Stebbins: your honor, same objection.
Judge: sustained. Q. … do you agree with what Mr. Phillips did? Ms. Stebbins: same objection. This has been explored at length; and Mr. Phillips will be here, I’m sure. Mr. Panish: is that a Legal objection? Judge: “do you agree with what he did?” that’s kind of vague.
Mr. Panish: all right. I’ll rephrase it.
Q. Do you agree with the C.E.Os of your company, that you directly report to as the general counsel, making statements that aren’t true? A I don’t know that he didn’t know that it wasn’t true when he said it.
Since Shawn Trell didn’t answer let me answer for him – yes, it is perfectly acceptable for the CEOs of AEG to tell flat-out lies to everyone around. We’ve seen Randy Phillips tell lies a hundred times and no one disciplined him. And it is obvious that his ways fully satisfy the owner of Anschutz company as otherwise Philips would not be keeping his job.
But let us return to the reason for Randy Phillips’ lies. And the reason for them is most probably the utmost care taken by AEG not to frighten away the insurers as they have not obtained an insurance policy for illness yet, and therefore the need to present to the world the glossy picture of Michael’s perfect health. The show must go on and the orchestra must keep playing though the man on whom the whole show depends is dying in front of everyone’s eyes.
The Titanic was sinking but everyone was instructed not to panic. Michael was told to behave and attend rehearsals if he didn’t want them to pull the plug, Murray was to speedily arrange the medical records, two cameramen were to make a footage with high-definition cameras of whatever there was to shoot before the catastrophe took place and the AEG bosses doubled their efforts to obtain the insurance for illness at whatever cost it took.
In these circumstances it was indeed critical that no one said a word about Michael’s poor health and therefore security was alerted, no fan was allowed to come close to Michael and the word “hospital’ was to be forgotten at least until after the insurance was firmly in the AEG pocket. No one should know that the Artist is dying. Indeed who will issue insurance if there is rumor that the person to be insured is on the verge of death?
Panish said that on the day Michael died communications about insurance were going back and forth. Bob Taylor was bombarding Murray with requests of what was required for settling the matter. Murray was taking care of medical records and was texting messages and talking to his assistant. And Gongaware was threatening Lloyds that if they did not cover illness for Jackson they would drop the policy. Dropping it was a leverage they hoped to use on the insurers as it meant withdrawal of some $700,000 paid for the policy (which was the sum to be later covered by Jackson of course):
Q. Did you ever become aware that Mr. Gongaware said, ‘if we don’t get sickness coverage, we’re dropping the policy.‘ did you ever know he told that to Mr. Taylor?
A I don’t recall being aware that he communicated that to Mr. Taylor, no.
Q. So then on the date of Mr. Jackson’s death, there are communications going back and forth about insurance, right?
A Well, I don’t know ‘back and forth‘. Bob Taylor e-mailed Paul Gongaware, copying me, on this e-mail. He’s 8 hours ahead of us, London time, so I don’t know what time of day this was received. It’s not indicated.
This is how they spent the last precious days and hours while the ship was sinking. They could have saved his life but it wasn’t an issue. The issue was the insurance.
* * *
The testimony used for this post took place on May 21 (day 15 of the trial), but since it was posted by the great TeamMichaelJackson later let it come in the order we learned of it.
Here is the full transcript of Shawn Trell’s testimony on May 21, 2013:
My huge thanks go to the great TeamMichaelJackson for providing us and everybody with full transcripts of the AEG trial.
Please help them to help us: http://teammichaeljackson.com/archives/8530