LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An entertainment industry consultant testifying for concert promoter AEG Tuesday said it was difficult to determine the pop star’s earning power had he lived to continue performing.
The jury has heard 15 hours of testimony from Eric Briggs, an expert called to testify by lawyers for concert promoter AEG Live in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the late singer’s family.
On July 15, certified public accountant Arthur Erk testified the singer’s death had caused a loss of income estimated between $1.1 to $1.5 billion, earned from 37 months of touring, along with merchandise, endorsements, and royalties from a Las Vegas show.
Briggs testified Tuesday that after more than 350 hours reviewing the case — at a cost to AEG of between $600,000 and $700,000 — he had determined that Erk’s number was purely speculation. Erk was reportedly paid $95,000 for his work on the case.
“My fundamental conclusions are, one, that it is speculative as to whether these projects would have occurred and two, the projected numbers put forth by Mr. Erk are speculative,” Briggs testified.
Briggs did not offer an opinion as to how much money the Jackson estate lost as a result of the singer’s death, saying only that the plaintiff’s expert was speculating when he made the $1 billion estimate.
On Monday, Briggs presented charts to the jury showing Jackson’s “likeability” rating and album sales had both declined in the years before his death.
CBS2’s Legal Analyst Steve Meister said experts for both sides are speculating because there are too many subjective variables at play.
“Because there’s no fixed income, and with Michael Jackson the sky is the limit when it comes to income potential,” Meister said. “But there are other factors such as health, such as drug use, such as mental stability.”
Speculation, Meister said, is “the only way you can reasonably estimate what would have happened had someone not died.”
Attorneys for the concert promoter had previously presented conflicting documents prepared by AEG Live that estimated Jackson would earn $132 million for 186 shows, far less than Erk had estimated.
The jury will first have to determine whether AEG is legally liable before being asked to name such a number.