LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Almost four years after his shocking death, the bizarre life and sorry demise of Michael Jackson will play out again in a US$40 billion (S$49.5 billion) civil trial that pits the singer's family against the organisers of a musical comeback that never happened.
Opening statements are set for Monday in what is expected to be an emotional, three-month long jury trial that seeks to hold AEG Live, the promoters of the never-realised series of 2009 London concerts, liable for the wrongful death of the Thriller singer.
The lawsuit, brought by Jackson's elderly mother Katherine on behalf of the singer's three children, alleges that privately-held AEG Live was negligent in hiring the physician convicted in 2011 of his involuntary manslaughter to care for the singer while he rehearsed for the series of 50 shows.
Jackson, 50, drowning in debt and seeking to rebuild a reputation damaged by his 2005 trial and acquittal on child molestation charges, died in Los Angeles of an overdose of the powerful surgical anaesthetic propofol and a cocktail of other sedatives in June 2009.
His personal physician, Conrad Murray, is serving a four-year prison sentence after being found criminally negligent by administering propofol to Jackson as a sleep aid.
Murray's six-week trial in 2011 portrayed the former child star known for his stunning dance moves and spectacular public performances as a slurring, drugged-up man off-stage who slept with a toy doll on his bed and whose planned comeback tour was plagued with problems.
The civil trial in Los Angeles is expected to be just as sensational, although a request by TV networks for live coverage was turned down.
AEG Live contends that it did not hire or supervise Murray and claims that Jackson had prescription drug problems for years before entering into any agreement for the This Is It London concerts.
The concert promoters also argue that they could not have foreseen that Murray posed a danger to Jackson.