Jury selection begins Tuesday for a long-awaited trial in which Michael Jackson's mother is seeking billions of dollars from tour promoters she blames for her son's 2009 death, AFP
Katherine Jackson, 82, accuses AEG Live of negligently hiring doctor Conrad Murray to look after her son as he rehearsed in Los Angeles for a doomed series of London shows.
Murray, jailed after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for giving the singer an overdose of the drug propofol, could be called to testify, although he may refuse to do so.
Katherine Jackson herself, as well as the late pop star's two elder children, will also give evidence in the trial that comes nearly four years after his death, and could last more than two months.
Jackson died aged 50 at his LA mansion on June 25, 2009, from an overdose of the powerful sedative propofol, administered by Murray to help the "Thriller" legend deal with chronic insomnia.
At the time of his death, he was rehearsing for a series of 50 shows in London, organized with Anschutz Entertainment Group in what was seen as an attempt to revive his career, and also ease his financial woes.
Jackson's mother claims that AEG Live pushed her son too hard to prepare for the London shows.
But AEG claims that Jackson had a history of drug abuse long before the singer met Murray, hired to care for him before and during the shows at London's O2 Arena.
The wrongful death trial on Katherine Jackson's civil lawsuit was put off until after Murray's 2011 criminal trial was over, and legal wrangling also delayed a scheduled September start.
Lawyers have notably argued over what should and should not be admitted in evidence in the LA Superior Court.
Judge Yvette Palazuelos has granted an AEG demand for testimony about the child molestation charges to be heard -- which Katherine Jackson says are irrelevant -- claiming it could explain the star's stress and medical woes.
But she has refused to allow testimony notably about the parentage of Jackson's three children, or a bizarre incident in which his mother was allegedly kidnapped by family members and taken to Arizona last year.
Murray may be called from prison to give a deposition, but only with the jury out of the courtroom. And he may invoke his Fifth Amendment right to decline to testify in case it might incriminate him further.
But even before the trial proper gets underway, Murray was expected to speak in an interview with CNN, to be aired Tuesday evening, details of which were not immediately available before broadcast.
AEG says it was not responsible for hiring and supervising Murray, who treated Jackson with propofol and other drugs to tackle his insomnia as he rehearsed in LA.
"He was chosen by Michael Jackson, to be there at Michael Jackson's behest, to be Michael Jackson's doctor alone. This was only being done because Michael Jackson asked for it," AEG lawyer Marvin Putman told CNN.
"Michael Jackson was the only person who could get rid of him."
According to celebrity news website TMZ, Jackson's mother and his three children -- Prince, 16, Paris, 14 and 11-year-old "Blanket" -- want more than $40 billion from AEG for loss of future earnings and other damages.
AEG claims the figure is "preposterous" because Jackson's career was in a downward spiral following the child molestation allegations, as well as self-imposed exile in the Middle East, TMZ reported.