Posted by: Jeffrey Thomas DeSocio, Digital News Editor / Producer - email
Los Angeles, CA -
(FOX 11 / CNS) AEG Live created a conflict of interest by agreeing to Michael Jackson's demands to have Dr. Conrad Murray accompany the singer on his planned comeback tour at $150,000 a month, a physician testified yesterday.
Dr. Gordon Matheson, director of sports medicine at Stanford University, said the arrangement made Murray uncertain whether his primary loyalties were to AEG Live or to the pop star. He said it was an example of how financial issues can trump the primary concerns of a patient's health.
"I think Dr. Murray was extremely conflicted,'' Matheson said in testimony as a plaintiffs' witness in trial of a wrongful death/negligence lawsuit brought in Los Angeles Superior Court by the singer's mother and three children.
Matheson said Murray must have felt pressured knowing his contract called for him to be paid by AEG Live and that he had serious indebtedness he wanted to overcome. Murray also knew that his contract would be terminated if the tour did not go forward, Matheson said. He said the situation Murray was in likely led him to make poor medical decisions.
AEG Live contends Murray's contract was never executed because neither Jackson nor AEG Live signed it. The company also maintains the $150,000 a month was a loan to Jackson, and that the singer was obligated to reimburse AEG Live.
Murray was ultimately never paid any money. However, Matheson said Murray was still operating under the assumption he was under contract even if it was not a finalized agreement, so a conflict still existed.
Matheson said he saw parallels between Jackson's situation and conflicts in the sports world, where doctors also can be faced with deciding whether their primary obligations are to the team or to the player.
Matheson was the Stanford University team physician during the time Bill Walsh was head coach. Walsh later became a Super Bowl-winning coach with the San Francisco 49ers.
Katherine Jackson filed suit in September 2010 on behalf of herself and her late son's offspring, alleging that "This Is It'' tour promoter AEG Live hired Murray to care for the singer and failed to supervise him properly.
AEG Live attorneys maintain that Jackson hired Murray in 2006 as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during 50 sold-out concert dates at London's O2 Arena as part of an independent contractor arrangement.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's June 25, 2009, drug overdose death and sentenced to four years in jail. The doctor intravenously administered propofol as a sleep aid to the singer, who was living in a rented Holmby Hills home while rehearsing for the tour.