Will AEG be left holding the bag?
The unofficial L.A. County coroner’s report that ruled Michael Jackson’s death a homicide brings up more questions than it answers. Because the circumstances surrounding the singer’s death on June 25 are subject to an ongoing police investigation, it has yet to be determined what amount of money, if any, will be paid by the insurer Lloyd’s of London to partially cover the singer’s 50 concert dates at London’s O2 Arena.
The $17.6 million policy bought by the Anschutz Entertainment Group was a partial policy that would not have covered all the shows. The agreement called for payment in the event of “cancellation, abandonment, postponement or interruption,” according to Michael Roth, VP communications for AEG.
“If it’s proven that he died a particular way then the insurance policy will pay, and if it’s proved that he died in a different way then the insurance policy won’t pay, and I don’t think anybody really knows.”
Roth added that an initial four-hour medical exam given to Jackson in Los Angeles in early February by Dr. David Slavitt of New York was commissioned by Lloyd’s. The exam included blood work.
“We have never been provided a copy of the examination results,” Roth said, “which is pretty customary with insurance and medical privacy laws.” He said Slavitt “had no affiliation with AEG.”
Slavitt granted the singer a clean bill of health. But Lloyd’s required a second medical exam when the singer was to arrive in London closer to the July 13 kick-off show, and, if Jackson had passed the exam, it would have covered the remainder of the shows.
At this juncture, AEG has recovered its $30 million investment in the tour, mostly via its deal with Sony for a concert film gleaned from around 200 hours of footage taken during rehearsals in Los Angeles, some of which took place at Staples Center, which is owned by AEG. If paid, 100% of the policy will go to the Jackson estate, as per an agreement with AEG.
The homicide ruling doesn’t necessarily translate into murder or manslaughter. The coroner concluded that a fatal combination of drugs was administered to Jackson hours before he died June 25, according to an official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity since the findings remain sealed. Tests revealed that the powerful anesthetic propofol — normally used in surgeries — together with at least two other sedatives, caused Jackson’s death.
According to a search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday in Houston Dr. Conrad Murray, who was Jackson’s personal physician at the time of his death, told investigators he administered a 25mg dose of propofol (brand name Diprivan) at approximately 10:40 a.m. after spending the night injecting Jackson with two sedatives in an attempt to induce sleep. The coroner’s toxicology report found other substances in Jackson’s system, but they were not believed to have contributed to his death, according to the unidentified official.
Last week, Murray released a video on YouTube declaring that he was truthful to authorities. “I have done all I can do. I told the truth and I have faith the truth will prevail,” he said in the brief video.
Calls to Sony Music Entertainment and John Branca, lead attorney for the Jackson Estate, were not returned.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)