Michael Jackson’s family is taking the promoter of his ill-fated comeback tour to court, reportedly claiming tens of billions of dollars from AEG Live.
The civil proceedings in downtown Los Angeles will focus on the Jacksons’ claim the company was guilty of the “negligent hiring” of Dr Conrad Murray, the physician now in prison for killing Jackson.
One of the headlines in the US promises that this will be “The Wildest Jackson Trial Yet” – as the life and death of the King Of Pop is about to get another airing in court.
Jackson’s mother Katherine and children are believed to be seeking £25bn, including £5bn loss of future earnings – figures which are staggering even to seasoned US legal analysts.
As the court begins the task of selecting jurors for a trial that could last nine weeks, the media war between the two sides has stepped up a notch.
The Jackson family were already thought to be planning to call the star’s 16-year-old son Prince to give evidence. The teenager is expected to testify about witnessing his father’s last moments.
Now we hear that another Prince, the pop star of that name, could also be called by the Jacksons to testify about his experiences with AEG. Already many of the emails the Jacksons will rely on in court – electronic conversations between senior figures at AEG – have been leaked to the media.
It is understood AEG will argue they were not responsible for Murray or what happened to Jackson.
As part of their evidence, the judge has ruled they can bring up details of Jackson’s child molestation trial. It has been reported they will also seek to show that the star had drug issues well before he met Murray.
Murray himself is said to have refused to give evidence in the case while his own appeal against conviction is ongoing.
One of the most significant moments will come before the trial even starts: the judge Yvette Palazuelous will rule on an application for live television cameras to be in court.
She has refused so far but those challenging that ruling say the very principle of justice for the millions who will not have a seat in court means them being able to watch it on TV.
They point to the massive global television interest in the trial of Murray and the importance of the public seeing justice at work. It is an argument that holds a lot of sway in the US and especially in California, with decades of precedent for televising court proceedings.
Her ruling is eagerly awaited by the media and by Jackson’s millions of fans around the world, many of whom have lingering questions about his death.