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Jackson concert promoters call lawsuit "meritless"


Katherine Jackson, mother of pop star Michael Jackson, attends a ceremony at the family's old home in Gary, Indiana June 25, 2010. REUTERS/John Gress
Katherine Jackson, mother of pop star Michael Jackson, attends a ceremony at the family's old home in Gary, Indiana June 25, 2010. REUTERS/John Gress

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The promoters of a planned series of Michael Jackson comeback concerts said on Thursday a lawsuit holding them responsible for the singer's death was "inaccurate, unsubstantiated and meritless."

In its first comment on a wrongful death lawsuit filed on Wednesday by Jackson's mother, Katherine, and his children, AEG Live denied it had hired the singer's personal physician.

The civil lawsuit accused AEG Live of "putting its desire for massive profits" over the health and safety of the self-styled "King of Pop."

The lawsuit claimed privately held AEG was liable for the actions of Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, and had failed to provide proper life-saving equipment for the singer.

"The lawsuit is inaccurate, unsubstantiated and meritless. Dr. Murray was Mr. Jackson's longtime personal physician. AEG did not choose him, hire him or supervise him," AEG's lawyers

said in a statement.

"That said, and in honor of our professional relationship with Mr. Jackson and his Estate, we will have no further public statements," they added.

Jackson died of cardiac arrest at age 50 in Los Angeles in on June 25, 2009 after returning from rehearsals just days before the planned start of 50 London concerts.

Los Angeles officials have ruled Jackson's death a homicide and said he died mainly from a powerful anesthetic used as a sleep aid, combined with other sedatives and painkillers.

Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and is awaiting trial in Los Angeles.

Katherine Jackson's lawsuit revived early controversies around the strain of the concerts on Jackson after years away from the stage.

It claimed Jackson appeared drugged and disoriented at rehearsals in the days before his death, and that he was shivering badly on June 24. AEG, it claimed, was aware of his condition but did not postpone any rehearsals or alter his "grueling schedule."

The 2009 movie "This is It", which was compiled from rehearsal footage, showed the singer looking thin, but dancing and singing with much of the energy that had made him a global sensation.

Jackson's sudden death caused a worldwide outpouring of grief and sent sales of his many hit records soaring after a career slump that had followed the entertainer's 2005 trial and acquittal on charges of molesting a young boy.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Todd Eastham)

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