NEW YORK -- Jury selection begins Tuesday in a reported $40 billion lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live over Michael Jackson's death. Jackson was about to start a huge concert tour when he died in 2009.
More than 250 pages of e-mails are expected to be introduced as evidence in the civil suit filed by Jackson matriarch Katherine Jackson. In court documents, the pop icon's mother accuses the concert promoter of "putting its desire for massive profits from the tour over the health and safety of Michael Jackson."
On the day Michael Jackson announced his "This Is It" comeback tour, concert promoters were already worried about his health. According to e-mails leaked to the press, Jackson was described by one AEG executive as "drunk and despondent," "an emotionally paralyzed mess."
The King of Pop was contracted to perform 50 dates in London, with his personal take estimated at $400 million.
The suit claims AEG had extraordinary control over the singer's health, hiring his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, and insisting he get Jackson through rehearsals. One email reads: "We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary."
Defense attorneys argue there was never a "signed contract" between AEG and Murray, and executives had no idea the doctor was treating Jackson with the powerful anesthetic propofol. In 2011, Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death.
The lawsuit has taken a while to percolate up, but the Jackson family has said they believe Michael Jackson would be alive if it wasn't for the negligence of Murray, CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford explained on "CBS This Morning."
Ford explained, "(Jackson's family) say (Murray has) been convicted. He's doing jail time now criminally. This is a civil suit where they saying the company should have known better. They should have monitored Dr. Murray's conduct with Michael Jackson and done better research into hiring him in the first place and they're say that he contributed, his negligence contributed to Michael Jackson's death and as a consequence, they say, the company should be financially responsible."
The rumored $40 billion at stake in this case, a number reported by TMZ, may not be the actual figure awarded, according to Ford. "Lawyers will throw out big numbers to start with for a couple of reasons: one, because they can negotiate their way down and still be acceptable, sometimes they do it just to get attention," Ford said. "We're talking about the fact that it's $40 billion. If it was a $10 million lawsuit, you might not talk about that. A lot of that is strategy and tactics."
As for AEG Live, Ford said, "They're saying, 'Michael Jackson was an adult, sadly a troubled adult, but he should have been responsible for his own conduct,' and they're saying that Dr. Conrad Murray was not their employee. They're saying, 'Michael Jackson hired him. Michael Jackson paid him. Michael Jackson directed him,' and as a consequence they're saying, 'It's a terribly tragic and sad story, but it's not our fault.'"