LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Attorneys for Michael Jackson’s family accused concert promoter AEG of trying to smear the singer as debt-ridden and irresponsible through testimony from an expert financial witness in the ongoing wrongful death suit brought by Jackson’s mother.
Away from the jury, Jackson family lead attorney Brian Panish argued before the judge that the testimony of forensic accountant William Ackerman was “obviously intended to smear Michael Jackson and not relevant to any opinion he’s given in this case.”
On Monday, Ackerman testified Michael Jackson was mired in debt and spending millions more than he earned in the years before his death.
In his testimony, Ackerman described the artist as “tapped out” and could not borrow any more money, despite the singer owning half of a music catalog estimated at $2 billion.
“He dug himself a pretty good hole and I’m not sure he could continue to provide the support as measured,” Ackerman testified, noting that Jackson paid close to $30 million in interest on debt in the year that he died. The overall estimate of Michael Jackson’s debt was close to $400 million, according to his testimony.
Asked how much Jackson would have spent to support his mother and three children had he lived to the age of 65, the forensic accountant testified that Jackson would have spent close to $21.5 million.
AEG Live lead attorney Marvin Putnam argued that the testimony was relevant to the case because “you can’t give what you don’t have.”
The judge ruled to allow Ackerman’s testimony on Jackson’s debt to remain in the court record, but agreed to review the Jackson family attorneys’ objections.
Katherine Jackson is suing concert promoter AEG in a wrongful death lawsuit. Attorneys for the singer’s family charge that AEG was negligent in hiring Dr. Conrad Murray to look after the singer during his ill-fated ‘This Is It’ concert tour.
AEG denies any wrongdoing and maintains the doctor was brought on at Jackson’s request.
The case is expected to continue into September.