Jackson’s mother and children are suing AEG Live, contending the concert promoter is liable in his death because it negligently hired, retained or supervised Dr. Murray.
AEG Live lawyers argue their executives had no way of knowing — or reason to suspect — that Jackson was abusing drugs as he prepared for the “This Is It” concerts they were promoting and producing.
“I had no idea” Jackson was using propofol in the weeks before his death, Gongaware testified.
Although he worked advance promotion on Elvis Presley’s last tours — under the direction of Presley manager Colonel Tom Parker — Gongaware testified he never met Presley.
“Did you understand he had a problem with drugs?” AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam asked.
“I understood that later,” Gongaware said. “There was a period of time when we didn’t work. I didn’t understand at the time, but I learned that it was a drug problem and the Colonel said he couldn’t work.”
Jackson lawyer Brian Panish confronted Gongaware with two e-mails he sent two weeks after Jackson’s death in response to condolence messages from friends. They both read: “I was working on the Elvis tour when he died so I kind of knew what to expect. Still quite a shock.”
But under questioning from Putnam, Gongaware said he didn’t mean that he expected Jackson to die like Elvis. He was referring to the trauma of people losing their jobs because a tour is canceled, he said.
‘I don’t recall’
AEG’s lawyer tried to rehabilitate Gongaware’s credibility with jurors, who sometimes laughed at his repetition of “I don’t recall” several dozen times under questioning by Panish.
After the jury left the courtroom Wednesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelas commented on the number of “I don’t recall” responses. “We’ve had a lot of that,” she said. “How much more of that?”
“Why could you not recall e-mails?” Putnam asked him Thursday.
“I had not reviewed them and had not seen them in years,” Gongaware answered.
Some of the e-mails were new to him because he was so busy putting Jackson’s tour together that he never read them, he said. “Mostly, it was just a time factor if it was something that didn’t have to do with me.”