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AEG lawyer: 'Michael Jackson played Russian roulette with his own life'

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Sep 26, 2013 | 1:31pm EDT

AEG Live bosses would "never" have signed Michael Jackson up for a gruelling concert tour if they knew he was playing "Russian roulette" with his life by taking drugs to combat his insomnia issues, a Los Angeles court has heard. Defence lawyer Marvin Putnam made the statement on Wednesday (25Sep13) during closing arguments in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the King of Pop's family against AEG Live executives. He claimed Jackson died because of his own "bad choices" and insisted revelations about his reliance on anaesthetic propofol, which emerged after the singer's death in 2009, were news to promotion executives. He told the jury, "AEG only learned the truth after Mr. Jackson passed. AEG would have never agreed to finance this tour if they knew Mr. Jackson was playing Russian roulette in his bedroom every night." Putnam went on to underline the defence's assertion that Jackson was the one who hired disgraced Dr. Conrad Murray as his personal physician to help him prepare for the doomed This Is It residency in London. The lawyer said, "He didn't ask AEG. He said, 'We're using this doctor'. He was a grown man of 50 and, as a grown man, he is responsible for his own health and his own choices no matter how bad those choices may be... It was his money and he certainly wasn't going to take no for an answer." The Thriller hitmaker's mother, Katherine Jackson, and his three children are suing AEG Live bosses amid allegations they were negligent in hiring Murray, who is currently serving time behind bars for involuntary manslaughter. He was convicted of administering the fatal dose of propofol which caused the superstar's death in 2009. The family is demanding $290 million (£193.3 million) in personal damages, in addition to an undisclosed amount for Michael's lost future earnings. Previous reports have placed the Jacksons' total demand for damages at more than $40 billion. AEG Live chiefs have denied the charges. Closing arguments are expected to continue on Thursday (26Sep13) before the case is turned over to the jury for consideration. A unanimous decision is not required - just nine of the 12 jurors must agree to secure a verdict in the trial, which has been running for five months.

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