Executives from the company had been attempting to purchase a policy only days before the singer died.
Testimony and emails that were presented in court, this week, revealed that within a span of only days before the death of Michael Jackson, executives from AEG had still been working to try to obtain a life insurance policy to cover the celebrity who seemed increasingly erratic at his comeback tour rehearsals.
The company became concerned that Jackson’s behaviors could cause him to get hurt.
One of the emails shown to the court was from June 19, 2009, from a “This Is It” tour production manager to Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware, two AEG executives. It stated that “MJ was sent home without stepping foot on stage. He was a basket case and [director] Kenny [Ortega] was concerned he would embarrass himself on stage or worse yet — get hurt.”
The AEG execs recognized that there could be a real issue and sought life insurance coverage for Jackson.
The subject line of the aforementioned email was “Trouble at the Front” and had been forwarded by Randy Phillips to Tim Leiweke, who was the president and CEO of AEG at the time. Phillips added his own note, that “We have a real problem here.” This, and a series of other emails and phone calls, led the company to begin seeking a life insurance policy to cover the singer in case everything should go wrong.
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The emails were shown to the senior vice president and general counsel for AEG, Shawn Trell, the day after they were shown to the court. Trell was brought back to the witness stand during the wrongful death lawsuit trial brought about by Jackson family members. He testified that there was no signed contract between AEG and Ortega, which providing the promotion funding for the concert series that would be held at London’s O2 Arena.
Trell said on Monday that “Kenny Ortega is different.” He added that the director had been paid based on a number of emails that had been exchanged. However, the attorney retracted that statement on Tuesday, saying that there was a written contract with AEG for Ortega, after all. Trell explained that court documents he’d reviewed on Monday night “refreshed” his memory.
While Trell testified that “I knew of no problems with Michael Jackson at all,” others at AEG had been attempting to obtain life insurance coverage for a situation that appeared to be growing increasingly risky.