Jacksons vs AEG - Day 73 – August 20 2013 – Summary

No Jackson family members are in court today. 

The judge laid out a schedule on when certain motions will be argued in the next couple weeks. Katherine Jackson wants to amend her lawsuit. AEG Live is seeking a dismissal of the case, claiming the plaintiffs haven’t shown enough evidence to send the case to the jury. AEG’s motion won’t be heard until Sept. 5 so that all the lawyers who need to argue it can be present. (AP)

Rhoma Young Testimony

AEG Direct

AEG called their next witness, Rhoma Young. She's a Human Resources consultant. (ABC7) She was questioned by AEG Live attorney Jessica Stebbins Bina. (AP)

Young said she was asked to look at the practices and policies of AEG Live, their independent contractors and testimony to see if consistent (ABC7) She has testified in detail about the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. (AP)

Young explained she's been in the business going on 40 years. She has her own consulting company in the Bay area. She has worked with Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, LinkedIn, Roche, UC Med Centers, private hospitals, Kaiser, Chevron. She also worked with small organizations with less than 100 employees. In the music industry, Young said she worked with the Symphony, Ballet and Opera in the Bay area. (ABC7) She has been a consultant for 30+ years. Young has consulted on HR issues with the U.S. government and large tech companies including Facebook, Microsoft and healthcare companies. (AP) Young described her extensive background in the business, the different places she has worked and education. (ABC7)

Young said she looks at the whole policy and procedures, all documents and how the company operates. Young explained part of her job is to help the organization to develop a plan to perhaps be more consistent with the written word. (ABC7)

Young reviewed an extensive list of documents in this case. She’s worked in this case close to 200 hours. Her hourly rate for research is $350 per hour and $450 and hour for testimony and deposition. Young said her bill is close to $70,000 as recent as yesterday. In court, she said she testified 95 times, or maybe more. She said she tried to testify half and half for plaintiffs and defendants and has refused work when the balance is off. “I’m not an advocate,” Young said. “Because I testify for both sides, I can’t contradict myself. My reputation is about being balanced.” (ABC7)

She also does investigations and has helped companies hiring employees. Young said an employee is an individual hired by a company. General there’s a defined way to find the employees, the screen process, layers of screen to determine who’s more qualified and who is not. When you’re hired there’s a supervisor, job title, set of expectation, training, how they are paid, employee benefits, insurance, Young said (ABC7) Employees, Young told the jury, typically apply for jobs, have supervisors, are entitled to some benefits and have a pay range. (AP)

Young explained there's are different levels of human resources. One aims for perfection and the basic, which includes reasonable practices. In the world of HR, there are certain basics that are covered in workshops, since there always is confusion. (ABC7)

One is issue between exempt and non-exempt, independent contractor and employee, Young testified. (ABC7)

Application process is the initial screening process of a potential employee, Young said, if person meets the basic qualification. Young said there could be several interviews and done by different ways, like by one person or group of individuals. (ABC7)

Young explained independent contractors are usually sourced through different method and different way. The expert said you can get personal referral or look for professional organizations to find independent contractors. There’s no application. Young testify for independent contractors you talk about price, timing, scheduling, license and there’s contract prior to beginning of work. (ABC7) Independent contractors aren’t employees, Young said, and aren’t entitled to insurance or other benefits and don’t have a supervisor. Independent contractors also are typically referred to a job, and don’t get on-the-job training as an employee might, Young said. Young made a point of telling the jury that her definitions of employees and independent contractors aren't legal ones. (AP)

In order to obtain a medical license, Young said the doctor submits to a fingerprint scan, which goes thru Department of Justice. They also go thru very thorough education background. The State of California does not check financial background of applicants to issue medical licenses, Young said. (ABC7)

Stebbins Bina showed Young a chart that Shawn Trell and plaintiff’s expert Jean Seawright testified about related to AEG Live’s practices. The chart spelled out in bullet points the company’s practices for checking out employees versus independent contractors. Young said the chart was consistent with HR-established practices for checking out employees and independent contractors. she also described appropriate background check policies. She said financial checks are expected for people working in financial roles with a company, but not necessarily for other workers. Other licenses (driving, medical) would be verified. (AP)

Bina showed chart of AEG Process to Check Out People. (ABC7)

- Job posted
- Interview and resume
- Verify employability
– Check reference and work history 
– Criminal background check is warranted
– Credit check if hired for financial position 
– Obligation based on employment relationship

Independent Contractors: 
– Previous Working Relationship with AEG Live or Known to the Artist or Known in the Industry
– Required licenses or permits 
– Fully insured 
– Indemnification provision 
– Obligations laid out in contract

Employees have deductions and benefits, such as taxes, insurance, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, etc, Young explained. There’s no payroll taxes deducted from pay of independent contractors, the expert said. (ABC7)

“An employee is brought in with the expectation the person will be with the company for a while,” Young said. Thus the training is different. Independent contractor is supposed to have the expertise right now, she explained. For employee, there’s job description and a set of responsibility very defined. They are usually going to have an employee handbook she said. Handbook details the expectations from the company and what employee can expect from employer, the expert explained. Independent contractors’ duty are worked out in advance and generally with a contract. Young: Generally in my opinion, independent contractors supply their own: their insurance, equipment, etc. They are normally self-contained. (ABC7)

Young said there’s nothing inconsistent in the way AEG check people out with what’s used in the business. (ABC7)

Young said in looking at the content of Dr. Murray’s contract, she said it’s consistent with an independent contractor agreement. “That agreement signed by Dr. Murray did contain things I usually would encounter in independent contractor agreements,” Young opined. (ABC7)

Young: This is little bit of different 3-way agreement. This is AEG acting on behalf, helping MJ getting the doctor he wanted to go on tour. Bina asked who she understood asked for Dr. Murray to be hired. “Michael Jackson,” she responded. Young: My understanding is AEG was to advance funds for other personal staff on behalf of MJ at his request ultimately to be paid back by MJ. “My understanding these choices were being made by MJ. The children chose Kai Chase, but the choices were ultimately MJ’s,” Young testified. (ABC7)

From an HR point of view, background checks could be part of both, but the way of which they are done are different, Young said. The gathering of initial information includes everything you do to find out about the person or organization you’re thinking of bringing on. For employee, Young said the check would include application, talk to prior employers, check driver’s license. Depending on the type of job, there should be a determination on whether a background check is needed or not, Young said. (ABC7)

“For independent contractors, in my opinion, you don’t do background check or criminal check,” Young said. “You have a different set of knowledge, referrals,” she said. You may ask them to provide necessary licenses, their own insurances. She said it may all be included in the agreement. (ABC7)

In an interview, the questions have to be job-related, Young said. Bina: Can you ask about how many children someone has? Young: No! Bina: Can you ask if a person anticipates to get to work on time? Young: You can say ‘the job is schedule to be performed between 8-5. Is that going to present a problem? Young said the rules are in place because you can have privacy issues, you can be asking inappropriate question not fair and equitable. (ABC7)

Young said AEG does basic checks for employees, such as is the person eligible to work, do they have driver’s license if needed for the job. She said they also do credit checks for people who have fiscal and fiduciary duties and criminal background check on some specific employees. (ABC7)

Young said that background check is much less frequently done for independent contractors than it is for employees. Young said many licenses go thru detailed background check. There’s also a possibility to do a check during the interview, if needed. She explained licenses check skills, experience. Professionals are to adhere to standards of expected performance from the issuer of license. Independent contractors give you different kinds of assurances when they are self-insured, Young explained. (ABC7)

Bina: Do you agree or disagree that a credit check was job related for MJ’s physician? Young: I absolutely do not agree. Young: The process for someone to get a medical license is fairly thorough. Secondly, I have worked in health care w/ all different settings. “As fair as I know, they do not do credit checks,” Young said. She checked places hiring, saw no reference as credit check as a requirement. “It’s not common, it’s not frequent, in fact it’s very rare,” Young testified about credit check in the healthcare industry. (ABC7)

Plaintiffs’ HR expert Jean Seawright testified earlier she relied on a study that 3% of healthcare companies did credit checks of employees. Young said 97% of healthcare company did not conduct any credit check. And that included more than just physicians, she said. Young: I helped organizations conduct recruiting, approximately 280, 300 times. Young has done only one credit check for a CFO. Young said the person was going to be making decisions of the financial and fiscal health of the organization. “It’s more of a judgment issue, how they dealt with, for the health of the organization,” Young explained. “In the professional experience I had, it is not common to do credit checks on physicians,” Young opined. (ABC7)

She disagrees that Dr. Murray’s job was high risk or sensitive. High risk is when a person performing the work has more likelihood of fatality or injury to the worker, Young explained. Bina: Is there anything here that you considered Dr. Murray’s job high risk and sensitive? Young: No, I do not. (ABC7)

Young: There were multiple occasions Ms. Seawright seemed to have ignored basic HR standards. Young: When she said there’s no difference between independent contractor and employees, for example. “How she described job relatedness, it was totally at odds from what I’d have expected from a seasoned HR professional,” Young opined. (ABC7)

Bina finished her direct examination. 

Jackson cross

Jacksons’ attorney, Brian Panish, did cross examination. (ABC7)

Young said she started tracking cases she’s testified about 15 years ago. She had been testifying about 20 years, 5 years were not tracked. Young came to LA Friday evening. She met with the attorneys Saturday, Sunday and Monday, lunch today. “I don’t bill until I get in this chair,” Young said. She bills different rate when sitting around, which is at $350/hour rate. “It’s true I’m a full-time HR consultant,” Young said, adding she also has another business. Young has an antique business and jewelry design. She works 30-50 hours in HR per week, which she considers full time. (ABC7)

Panish: Do you know what a CMC certification is? Young: Yes P: And that’s something you don’t have? Y: Correct . Panish asked if she has worked with concert promoters. She said no. Panish: Ma’am, you don’t specialize in the music business? Young: No. (ABC7)

Young worked at General Motors. There were labor issues and Young represented the company. Panish: During that time, GM was laying off tens of thousands of jobs? Young: At the end of my time there, yes. (ABC7)

Panish asked if she has ever seen a 3-way party involving a doctor, patient and someone else. “I’ve worked with some clinics and going thru personnel files I saw some 3-way agreements,” Young said. There were some independent contractor situation and 3 party agreements, she explained. This was over 10 years ago. Panish: And the agreement said the doctor took directions from someone else other than the patient? Young: I didn’t read the agreements. (ABC7)

Young said she has not seen a contract between a concert promoter, doctor and patient. Panish: You’re not familiar with physicians traveling with musicians on tour? Young: Only what I read in this case. She said she’s familiar with a doctor going on “This Is It” tour and that a doctor was present in an earlier MJ tour. Panish: You never dealt with a producer/promoter trying to hire a doctor for an artist? Young: That’s correct. Young said she’s never hired a physician on behalf of anyone. She has helped in the process but was not the person to have the last say. (ABC7)

Young has not looked at Nevada’s medical license requirements prior to issuing a medical license. There was one child support situation that was late, Young said. She read in the case that Dr. Murray has 6 or 7 children. (ABC7)

Panish: You’re not disputing AEG could’ve made Dr. Murray sign a authorization for background check, are you? Young: No. Panish: Did AEG have a written policy of what they had to do to supervise an independent contractor? Young: No. Panish: Is there a written policy regarding hiring and retaining independent contractors? Young said that as far as she knew, AEG has a template of draft contract. Young explained there’s a draft, in writing, of template for dealing with independent contractors. She said she could consider that a policy. Panish showed the independent contractor template and what Young said it would be a policy and procedure. Panish: Does it say what they should check out before the employment? Young: No P: Does it say check references, prior employment? Y: No. Panish: It’s important to have clear policies and procedures to hire independent contractor in order for everyone to follow the same rules? Young said it helps. “My understanding is that all went thru legal,” she added. Panish asked what document applies for written policy/procedure for AEG Live hiring/retaining/engaging an independent contractor. “To my knowledge there isn’t one,” Young said. “As far as I know, there are no criteria in writing before hiring an independent contractor.” “I look for effectiveness not correctness when doing my audits,” Young said. Young explained she was not asked to to assess if AEG Live appropriately supervised Dr. Conrad Murray. (ABC7)

Panish asked what AEG Live did to check Dr. Murray’s license. Young said Kathy Jorrie searched the doctor’s medical license. Panish pointed out that insurance was never provided to AEG. “And the agreement was never completed,” Young responded. (ABC7)

Panish: Finding someone is different from checking them out, isn’t it? Young: Yes. You may be doing both things at the same time. Panish: In your opinion, AEG didn’t have to do anything? Young: In terms of background check and supervising Dr. Murray, no. (ABC7)

Young said she does not consider physician’s job dangerous. She said industry considers the danger to the person doing the job not 3rd party. Panish asked if one example of dangerous profession is crocodile’s keeper, wild animal holders. She said yes. “Crocodiles are dangerous creatures,” Young testified. “Have you trained a crocodile before?” Panish asked. “Not recently,” she responded. And Young took a jab at Panish: “I’ve been cross examined by one.” Everyone started laughing. (ABC7)

Young is donating the trial testimony money to the American Cancer Society. Panish said if he keeps her tomorrow there will be more money to ACS. Defense attorney objected. Everyone laughed again. (ABC7)

Frasco Profiles does background check for AEG. Panish showed provision that says “Disclosure and Authorization to Conduct Background Check”. Panish: In 2009, AEG Live had the ability to do background check on a person if they wanted to? Young: Yes. Panish: Frasco charges between $40-$125 for background checK? Young said she based her opinion on a competitor of Frasco. The answer is yes. Young is familiar with credit check in general. She doesn’t do them herself. (ABC7)

Panish: Did you see any evidence in this case that AEG Live did a background check on Dr. Murray? Young said Jorrie checked Dr. Murray’s medical license, whether it was current and if there had been any complaints against him. (ABC7)

Panish asked Young about Det. Martinez’ assertion that Dr. Murray was in desperate financial troubles. “I learned that he was late in the mortgage payments, I don’t know how far it was in the foreclosure process,” she said. Young said in her deposition that she has no idea how Randy Phillips determined Dr. Murray was extremely successful. (ABC7)

Young explained she’s familiar w/ State of California’s criteria to issue licenses to physician, but she’s not an expert in physician hiring. (ABC7)

Panish asked if 10 mins is thorough, detailed background check on someone. Young said it could be, even Seawright said it only takes 5 mins. (ABC7)

AEG Redirect

In re-direct, Bina showed “Disclosure and Authorization to Conduct Background Check.” It says “Credit history may be requested, but only where such information is substantially related to the duties and responsibilities of the position to which you’re applying.” (ABC7)

Young said she thinks the salary discussion alone proves that’s what MJ wanted at the time. (ABC7)

Jackson recross

In re-cross, Young said there was an agreement that called for the engagement of Dr. Murray. Panish: If AEG came to you in 2009 and asked if they should hire a doctor on behalf of 3rd party, you would’ve said no? Young: I don’t know. “No, there’s not a chance I’d advise that,” Young said in a deposition, laughing out loud. (ABC7)

AEG redirect

Bina asked if the reason she said that was because she’s not a lawyer. She said yes, she doesn’t advise on contracts. (ABC7)

Young is excused. 


AEG Live plans to play three video depositions tomorrow, Jeffrey Adams, Dr. David Adams and Dr. Stephen Gordon.