Jacksons vs AEG - Day 68 – August 13 2013 – Summary

Katherine Jackson is present in court

Court started this morning with 40 minutes of arguments on William Ackerman’s testimony. Ackerman is a defense witness testifying about Michael Jackson’s finances. Plaintiffs wanted some of his testimony stricken. Plaintiff’s attorneys Kevin Boyle and Brian Panish argued that testimony about Jackson’s debts is prejudicial and should be stricken. AEG’s lawyers Marvin Putnam and Jessica Stebbins Bina countered it was important to this case and how much MJ could have given to his family. “The case law is clear , you can’t give what you don’t have,” Putnam told the judge. Ackerman’s opinion is that MJ was in a precarious financial condition due to debts, including a large loan on his share of Sony-ATV catalog. Panish kept asking AEG Live’s lawyers to provide a case that allowed them to present evidence about MJ’s debts. Stebbins Bina eventually cited one case. That prompted the judge to ask plaintiffs for a case citation if they could find one later. For the time being, Judge Yvette Palazuelos overruled the plaintiff’s objections and declined to strike Ackerman’s testimony from yesterday. (AP)

Ackerman and Panish have also been in some tense exchanges, so the judge admonished Ackerman to not argue with Panish. Ackerman has also had to be told by judge to answer questions with a “yes” or “no” several times. She told him to listen to her instructions (AP)

William Ackerman Testimony

Jackson cross

Ackerman is back on the stand for cross examination. Brian Panish, attorney for the Jacksons, doing the questioning. (ABC7)

One of the first questions Ackerman was asked was about Michael Jackson’s life expectancy _ the judge blocked the question yesterday. Plaintiff’s lawyer Brian Panish complained that Ackerman had testified about Katherine Jackson’s life expectancy, so the judge relented. Ackerman said based on a table used in wrongful death case, Michael Jackson’s presumed life expectancy was 29 years. (AP) Panish asked what was the life expectancy for a 50 year old male based on the table he used to calculate Katherine Jackson’s life expectancy. Ackerman: According to this table a male of 50 years old would be 29.6 years. (ABC7)

There was a lot of back-and-forth about how much money Ackerman projected Jackson could have given Mrs. Jackson, his kids if he’d lived. His big-ticket number from yesterday was more than $21 million over the next 15 years, but Ackerman said it could have been less. Asked by Panish whether he could say how much Jackson would have given, Ackerman said that was for the jury to decide. (AP) “I can’t speculate what he’d give for support” Ackerman said. “I do know he was in very precarious financial situation at the time he died.” “He could’ve been bankrupt within 6 months as far as I know,” Ackerman opined. Panish asked if after bankruptcy MJ wouldn’t have debt left. Ackerman: He would not be able to provide support for his mother and children then. (ABC7)

Ackerman said MJ received $6.2 million in advance from AEG. Panish said MJ received $23 million in 6 months in 2009. Panish: You can’t tell us what support he would be able to provide, right, sir? Ackerman: I think that’s for the jury to decide. (ABC7)

Panish: Did you know MJ gave Mrs. Jackson a $500,000 RV? Ackerman: Yes, it was in my analysis. (ABC7)

Ackerman said there was no record of MJ’s amount of donations over the years. Ackerman testifies he saw on documents that MJ was going to donate the proceeds of “Dangerous” tour to charity. Panish: Did you see he donated over $60 million to charity? Objection, sustained. (ABC7) Panish asked at one point whether Ackerman knew of anyone who donated more to charity than Jackson. Bill Gates, the consultant replied. The lawyer then asked Ackerman whether he was familiar with Jackson being in the Guinness Book of World Records for his charitable giving. Ackerman wasn’t familiar with that distinction. Panish moved on to other topics. (AP) Panish: Do you agree MJ was a very generous person? Ackerman: I absolutely agree with that. (ABC7)

Panish asked if he thought MJ would give the kids everything he thought important. Ackerman responded MJ wanted his children to be humble. (ABC7)

Panish asked about the billings by Ackerman’s firm. He said it was reasonable to expect the firm had billed $900k or more at this point. (AP) The bill for Ackerman’s firm is about $900,000 currently. Panish wrote on a board what other damages expert for AEG charged. Bill from damages experts for AEG: Briggs — $700,000 Ackerman — $900,000 Total: $1.6 million (ABC7)

Ackerman doesn’t recall being qualified as expert witness for plaintiffs in a wrongful death case. Panish asked what percentage of his work is in wrongful death cases. “Very small percentage,” Ackerman responded. (ABC7) The lawyer asked about Ackerman’s experience in wrongful death cases. He’d only worked on “a handful” he said, but never testified in one. (AP) 

Ackerman said he reviewed a lot of trial testimony, but even more depositions in this case (ABC7)

Panish asked Ackerman for amount he used for the chart before he applied the 18% discount rate to bring the final number to present value. Ackerman looked at docs in his binders, said he doesn’t have original numbers w/ him. He said the calculations need to be done in software. Panish showed Ackerman Formuzis analysis and the calculation for personal consumption and professional fees. Formuzis used 7% discount rate. Panish asked if Ackerman used the same rate. “It’s an improper rate why would I do that?” Ackerman responded. (ABC7)

MJ had a $320 million debt against the Sony/ATV catalogue. Ackerman said the highest interest rate was 16.85%. Panish asked Ackerman if he read IRS valued of Sony/ATV catalogue at $700 million. “It would not change my conclusion, no sir,” Ackerman explained. Panish said Briggs testified independent appraisal valued at Sony/ATV catalogue at $700 million: $300MM on top of $400MM MJ had in debt. “I’m having a really hard time using that number,” Ackerman said. (ABC7) Panish questioned Ackerman on the value of Jackson’s share of the Sony-ATV music catalog and an IRS appraisal of its worth at $700 million. Ackerman said he thought there was “strong testimony that conflicts with” the $700 million figure and he had a hard time believing it. At around this point, Ackerman mentioned an estate accounting, which was prohibited by the judge. She struck his answer. (AP)

Panish: AEG knew MJ’s financial condition when they entered into an agreement with him, didn’t they, sir? Ackerman: I don’t know that.Panish asked if Ackerman read Randy Phillips’ deposition where he said they were aware of MJ’s finances. (ABC7)Panish also asked whether AEG Live knew about Jackson’s financial condition. Ackerman said he didn’t know and the lawyer pointed to testimony by Randy Phillips that said the company was aware of MJ’s debt and knew he needed to work to avert “financial disaster.” Panish showed Ackerman numerous passages from depositions. Ackerman read them very deliberately. Ackerman: “I’m not here for a memory test.” He said that after Panish questioned his recollection of testimony he had read earlier. (AP)

Ackerman said MIJAC catalogue was same amount of the debts on it. He said the value is about $ 75 million. “There was no equity in that asset in June 2009,” Ackerman said he read in the documents. Ackerman said he did not put a value on the assets MJ had. “Liability exceeded any amount of value of the assets,” Ackerman testified. Sony/ATV catalogue — there’s a value MIJAC catalogue — there’s some value Neverland — there’s some value (ABC7)

Panish asked if Ackerman read Tom Barrack’s testimony that he met with MJ several times to straighten his financial situation. Ackerman said there was some mention to it but doesn’t remember the details of the meeting. Panish showed Ackerman several bills from his firm where they researched Colony Capital and MJ’s deal. Ackerman: Colony Capital came in when Neverland was about to be foreclosed and lent MJ $23 million with a very interest high rate, by the way. Panish: But didn’t you testify yesterday the loan had no interest? Ackerman explained it was high interest loan but he didn’t have to pay it (ABC7)

Panish: Her never liquidated his assets, did he sir? Ackerman: He never did. Panish said MJ didn’t want to liquidate his assets, instead he wanted to go back touring. (ABC7)

Ackerman said Michael Jackson signed the contract with AEG to go back on tour. (ABC7) Panish asked about Jackson’s contract with AEG Live, and the consultant said he didn’t remember who signed it. After a few moments, Ackerman said he believed Michael Jackson signed the agreement. He said he focused “on numbers, not process.” (AP)

Panish asked where Ackerman researched Colony Capital and MJ’s deals. “There’s a really interesting tool called internet, there are a lot of things you can find there,” Ackerman responded. Panish asked if MJ decided to go on tour after meeting with Tom Barrack. Ackerman said it appeared that way. (ABC7)

Panish: Did you do any discount rate of 7, 10 or 15%? Ackerman: No, I did not. I used 18%. (ABC7)

Panish: Have you prepared calculation of personal consumption for MJ per year? Ackerman: I actually calculated something this morning. Ackerman said the bars on the graph he showed yesterday include personal consumption. Panish asked if he came up with numbers after speaking with his attorneys yesterday. “Today is typically after yesterday,” Ackerman responded. Judge struck the answer. (ABC7)

Panish: Do you know if AEG submitted a $300,000 in expense that had been accrued for the the services of Dr. Murray? Ackerman: I have a vague recollection of seeing this number. Panish showed documents to Ackerman to refresh his recollection. (ABC7)

Panish asked a few questions about the “This Is It” expenses that Tohme Tohme signed for before the lunch break. (AP) 

Panish asked if Ackerman knows that Erk did not include the interest rate in his calculations of consumption. He said yes. Ackerman said had Erk included interest, the red bar would go much higher, since most of the expenses are interest. (ABC7)

Panish: Did Mr. Briggs give a number for loss of future earnings for MJ? Ackerman said he recalls Briggs saying projections were speculative. Panish: Did Mr. Briggs give an opinion the amount MJ would lose in future earnings? Ackerman: I don’t recall. Panish asked if Briggs said the amount for future earning for MJ would be zero. Ackerman said he doesn’t remember Briggs putting a number. “My fundamental understanding his (Briggs) testimony is that Mr. Erk’s calculations were speculative,” Ackerman said. (ABC7)

“The reality is that Mr. Jackson could lose money,” Ackerman said, pointing that MJ had debts that could offset anything he earned. Panish: Did Mr. Briggs put no figure for loss of income for MJ’s life? Ackerman: That’s correct. Panish: And in your opinion is that the children lost $21.5 millions in future support? Ackerman said that was correct, if you were to believe MJ would continue to give the same support as previous years. “It could be zero support too,” Ackerman opined. “He was in pretty bad financial situation.” Panish asked if support could’ve been zero. “I guess in that situation yes, it could have been zero,” Ackerman responded. Panish: For $1.6 million, it’s your and Briggs’ opinion, that MJ’s loss of future earning could be zero? Ackerman: That’s a possibility. (ABC7)

After the break, Panish didn’t immediately ask about the tour expenses budget again. Instead, he asked about Ackerman’s projections. Panish asked Ackerman whether his opinion was, based on Jackson’s poor financial state, the singer might not have been able to give his mother and three children any support if he had lived. Ackerman said it was a possibility. Panish made the remark that between Ackerman and Eric Briggs’ $1.6 million in fees, they had opinions that Jackson could have left nothing to his mother, children if he had lived. With Ackerman’s acknowledgement that was a possibility, Panish sat down (AP)

AEG redirect

AEG Live defense attorney Sabrina Strong took over, and asked Ackerman about Jackson’s annual spending. He said it averaged about $35 million a year, but fluctuated from $23 on the low end to almost $45 million on the high end. Strong asked whether in 2009, I appeared Jackson had the resources to keep spending like that. The consultant said no. “He dug himself a very deep hole,” Ackerman said of Jackson’s debts by the time he died. Strong asked Ackerman about a couple deposition pages, at which point the consultant read the testimony into the record. Ackerman was supposed to read the passages to himself, not aloud to the jury. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be done, so the judge ended up taking the deposition away from him. “After you read it, you give it to me,” Judge Palazuelos said. “I guess we’re going to have to do it the old-fashioned way. (AP)

Sabrina Strong did re-direct. She asked the witness if there a difference between consumption and spending. He said no. “I believe I shared multiple data points of how much Mr. Jackson spent on the last 8 years of his life,” Ackerman said. Strong showed exhibit with chart Ackerman made regarding MJ’s expenses. Ackerman said the bars show what MJ actually spent. Strong: Does that include business and personal spending? Ackerman said yes, that the bars included interest, business, personal, all that came out of MJ’s checkbook, since he was responsible for all. “He dug himself a very deep hole,” Ackerman explained. “He was tapped out.” Ackerman said there was very strong language in Michael Kane’s deposition that Michael Jackson was tapped out. “Mr. Barrack was in the frame of mind that MJ didn’t have enough income to support his spending and lifestyle,” Ackerman testified. Strong: Were there other outstanding debt for Mr. Jackson at the time Tohme was holding the $5 million for MJ? Ackerman: Huge. Ackerman listed MJ’s debts: Sony/ATV Neverland Condo Hayvenhurst MIJAC. Ackerman said on top of that there were creditors debts in the amount of $100 million. “There were just no shortage of people he had to pay,” Ackerman explained. “As the debt continue to grow, the interest continued to grow,” Ackerman explained. Ackerman: There is a significant issue of doubt whether he (MJ) would be able to continue to provide support. “He couldn’t get an increase in his $50,000 credit card limit,” Ackerman said. “That’s how bad it was.” (ABC7)

Ackerman said the MJ’s income were from Sony/ATV and MIJAC catalogues. “You lose the asset, you lose the income,” Ackerman opined. (ABC7) Strong asked about Jackson’s loan on the Sony-ATV catalog. Ackerman said the creditors were extremely well protected. Sony had guaranteed to repay the loan if Jackson defaulted, Ackerman said. “It was one of the most secure pieces of debt I’ve ever seen.” (AP) Strong asked about IRS’ valuation of Sony catalogue. Ackerman said Briggs’ opinion was that that asset was not that valuable. Ackerman said Briggs did valuation of Sony/ATV catalogue for tax return purposed on behalf of MJ’s Estate. Ackerman said the Sony/ATV catalogue debt interest was 7%. This was the majority of the debt MJ had. Ackerman explained the Sony/ATV loan was very unique in many ways. He said it was collateralized by the catalogue itself. He also said there was a bankruptcy remote trust attached to the catalogue, if asset were to be sold the proceeds would first to repay debt. On top of that, Ackerman said Sony guaranteed they would pay $300 million in case everything else failed. “It was the most secured loan I’ve ever seen,” Ackerman said. “It caused the interest rate to go way down.” (ABC7)

Strong asked about the bill Panish said AEG submitted to MJ’s Estate that included $300,000 for the cost of Dr. Murray’s services. Ackerman read the footnote: the contract is not signed by MJ and such a signature was a condition precedent to any payment obligation. (ABC7)

Strong then asked whether a $35k a month mortgage _ like the one on Hayvenhurst _ was necessary to live. No, Ackerman said. Strong’s questions were meant to rebut questions by Panish about whether MJ had provided his mother the necessities of life, such as housing. The judge stopped Strong from asking her line of questions on this topic, and her questioning concluded soon after that. (AP) Regarding necessities to live, Strong asked Ackerman if a mortgage of $35,000 a month is necessary to live. He answered no. Strong: Do you believe $111,000 a year in repairs and maintenance necessary to live? Objection, lack of foundation. Judge sustained. (ABC7)

Ackerman said Prince drives a Ford truck. He calculated his car to be a BMW. The expert explained his oversight only benefited the plaintiffs, since he calculated more money for support. Ackerman said MJ would have to have enough income to service all the debts, personnel, creditors and to support to plaintiffs. “I think he’d have significant difficulty in continue to provide the support,” Ackerman opined. (ABC7)

Jackson recross

Panish, in re-direct, asked if Barrack testified that, with Colony Capital help, MJ could overcome his debts and he could become a success? Ackerman: I don’t recall that. After reviewing Barrack’s deposition, Ackerman said yes. “I think they all thought and hoped the tour would be successful,” Ackerman testified. (ABC7)

Panish took over, and showed Ackerman the budget attached to the document that MJ’s manager Tohme signed in 2009. One version that the jury’s seen and Ackerman testified about had a footnote on it that $300k set aside for Murray wouldn't be paid because the contract was contingent on Jackson signing it. But the version presented to Tohme on June 28 lacked that footnote. (AP)

Panish: Did you read anything about MJ’s relationship with his mother and children? Ackerman: My recollection it was very loving. Panish: Did you read anywhere that MJ denied his mother or children anything? Ackerman: I don’t recall that. (ABC7)

Panish asked if Ackerman is here to help the plaintiffs. He said he’s here to try to be fair. Ackerman said he came up with a very generous support numbers should the jury decide to award anything. Ackerman said at the end of MJ’s life, he had close to $30 million a year in interest, his total overall expenses was $30-45 million range. Panish: Did you do a calculation for the loss of their father, loss of care, comfort, society, affection? Ackerman: I don’t think I’m qualified to calculate that. (ABC7)

Ackerman was excused. Judge broke for afternoon break.

(( Outside the presence of the jury, there was a discussion with the attorneys whether plaintiffs have formally rested their case. Panish to tell the judge in the morning. She wants to tell the jury and put it in the record. Defendants have filed a motion for non-suit already. Judge said she won’t rule on it right away. (ABC7))

Dr Gordon Hiroshi Sasaki video deposition

Dr. Sasaki graduated from Pomona College in 1964, degree in Bachelor of Arts. He went to Yale University for his medical school, graduated in 1968. Dr. Sasaki served in Vietnam and wore several hats as doctor, including anesthesia and plastic surgery on days off. He laughed at that last comment. (ABC7) The doctor talked about his experience, going to medical school at Yale, then going to Vietnam to serve as a doctor. (AP)

Sasaki performed a few medical procedures on Jackson in the 1990s, including surgery on his scalp to try to repair damage from burns. Jackson’s scalp had been burned in 1984 while filming a Pepsi commercial. Sasaki’s testimony was taped on Feb. 7, 2013. Sasaki performed two scalp surgeries after being introduced to Jackson by Dr. Steven Hoefflin. He also worked with Dr. Klein. (AP) Q: Did you ever provide medical treatment to MJ? A: Yes, I did. Dr. Sasaki said he did two surgeries on MJ’s scalp and 3 on the upper lip for contouring. March 16, 1993 was the first surgery Dr. Sasaki performed on MJ. It was to reduce scar on the scalp, the bald spot. Second surgery was on October 31, 1997 for scar revision to reduce the width of the reduced scar on the scalp. (ABC7)

Dr. Sasaki: The medical care, which included post operation and pain management, were taken out of my hands willingly. Dr. Sasaki said the care was placed into two other doctors that Mr. Jackson thought would be the best. Dr. Sasaki said the other two doctors were Steven Hoefflin and Arnold Klein. At some point Dr. Metzger as well, he said. Dr. Sasaki on how he met MJ: I received a phone call from Dr. Steven Hoefflin, a plastic surgeon. Dr. Sasaki said he was asked to assist him in providing different alternatives to take care of the bald spot on his scalp. The consultation with MJ and Dr. Hoefflin was set up, Dr. Sasazi said. Dr. Hoefflin is a well known plastic surgeon in Los Angeles. The surgery in 1993 lasted about half an hour. Dr. Sasazi explained he put a metal on a side of the defect and a metal on the other side. He then put stitches going from one side of the metal to the other, crank it to put the sides together. Dr. Sasaki said the method results in about 30% more skin from stretching. He then put ballon in the scalp to stretch further to cover scar. Dr. Hoefflin was his first assistant in the surgery. Dr. Sasaki said he knew generically that in 1988 MJ had a burn in his scalp. He said he understands the burn happened during a Pepsi commercial and it had healed, but MJ wanted to reduce the scar. The scar was in the middle part of the scalp, Dr. Sasaki said. (ABC7)

Sasaki was invited twice to Neverland Ranch after the procedures, once with his family when Jackson wasn’t there. The second Neverland trip was a house call to check on his wound after a medical procedure. (AP) Dr. Sasaki: He was kind enough to invite myself and my family to Neverland. Dr. Sasaki: We went up there, he was not there, but he was not supposed to be there. The staff served us lunch and showed us around. Dr. Sasaki said he visited Neverland Ranch twice, once with his family and once at MJ”s request. Dr. Sasaki: I think he just wanted to have me look at his wound, which was healing quite well. “More than talking about him, we talked about the Bible,” Dr. Sasaki said. He said he was there for medical purposes, though, The visits may have been 5 years apart. (ABC7)

Sasaki recalled that he was told that Jackson had a low pain tolerance, and that Hoefflin would take care of managing it. The doctor said that was unusual, since he usually saw patients throughout their recovery process. He said sometimes docs want to keep control of their celebrity patients, but noted he was just speculating that’s what was happening with MJ (AP) Dr. Sasaki prepared a summary of all the treatment of MJ on Feb 7, 2013. He wrote Dr. Hoefflin told him MJ had a low threshold to pain. Dr. Hoefflin strongly suggested he managed the pain medications since he knew the patient better. Dr. Sasaki said that with celebrities, when he doesn’t get to see patients frequently, he prefers not to treat them. Q: Did you provide any post operation pain care? A: None Q: Was that unusual? A: It’s highly unusual. Dr. Sasaki said if he doesn’t see the patient regularly he prefers not to give pain medication. He said he never talked to MJ about the pain treatment. Dr. Sasaki: I think when you’re dealing with high profile clients, some doctors prefer to keep it under control. Dr. Sasaki said he did the surgery but didn’t see the patient until 2-3 months later, which is highly unusual. Q: Did you prescribe any medication to MJ? A: No. Dr. Sasaki said normally a patient who undergoes that kind of surgery has pain lasting for 6 weeks. (ABC7)

In July 1993, Sasaki said he spoke to Klein, who suggested that he prescribe Jackson Percocet to deal with his pain. Sasaki’s notes indicated that he suggested Jackson see a pain management specialist. The doctor said he grew uncomfortable prescribing Percocet after Jackson requested the medicine 3 times between July-Aug. 1993. Each time Sasaki said he gave the singer 45 pills but he was concerned about the frequency of the requests. Sasaki said Klein told him that he would take care of Jackson’s pain needs. On Aug. 15, 1993, the doctor saw Jackson again. This time, Sasaki said he gave Jackson Demerol because the singer complained of serious pain. The doctor said it was the only time he ever gave anyone Demerol because the drug can start to alter a patient’s lifestyle. Sasaki said at the time, Dr. Klein told him that he was concerned about Jackson’s performance on a world tour. The last time Sasaki treated Jackson was in in 1998 and he never saw the singer again after that. (AP)

Dr. Sasaki testified from his record that on June 30, 1993 he had the first post op follow up at the Dr. Klein’s office. He said MJ was experiencing pain due to his work and rehearsals. He had to wear a hairpiece to camouflage the scar. Dr. Sasaki said he told Debbie Rowe that the area should be exposed to air as much as possible to heal. On July 3, 1993, Dr. Sasaki prescribed Percocet for MJ. It was the first time he prescribed pain medication to MJ. Dr. Sasaki said he spoke with Dr. Klein and that Klein suggested Percocet. On July 20, 1993, there was another request for Percocet, due to strenuous rehearsals, prescribed with the knowledge of Dr. Klein. On Aug 10, 1993, Dr Sasaki received a phone call from Dr. Klein that MJ was experiencing extreme pain. Doctor said pain was normal 4-6 weeks after surgery due to the nerves growing back Dr. Sasaki suggested to Dr. Klein that MJ be seen by a pain management specialist. “I was concerned about pain patterns and his use of Percocet,” Dr. Sasaki testified. Q: Was he taking too much? A: Yes Q: Where you the only person prescribing Percocet to MJ? A: I don’t know. Dr. Sasaki said he prescribed 45 tablets of Percocet each time. Dr. Sasaki told Dr. Klein and MJ he would no longer prescribe Percocet to MJ since he was asking for too much. Percocet prescription, 45 tablets each time, were prescribed on: July 3, July 20 and Aug 10, 1993. Q: Was that very frequent? A: Frequent. On Aug 15, 1993, Dr. Sasaki said he saw patient, with Debbie Rowe. He was complaining to pain in scar area, area had healed completely. Dr. Sasaki said he injected site with pain reliever, gave Demerol 100 mg, suggested MJ to see pain specialist. Aug 15, 1993 Dr. Sasaki prescribed Demerol to MJ under Omar Arnold. This was the first and last time Dr. Sasaki gave Demerol to MJ, he said. Dr. Sasaki explained Demerol is for acute pain, not chronic pain, following major surgery. Q: About how often do you prescribe Demerol? A: None. “Because I don’t do that kind of surgery that requires that kind of pain medication,” Dr Sasaki testified. Dr. Sasaki said MJ was the only patient he injected with Demerol. (ABC7)

He testified he is not familiar with MJ’s announcement in 1993 about being dependent on prescription medication. “I’m totally ignorant regarding that,” Dr. Sasaki said. (ABC7)

May 1998 was last time Dr. Sasaki saw and spoke with MJ. He knew doctors Hoefflin, Klein and Metzger treated MJ back then. That ended the video deposition. (ABC7)