Jacksons vs AEG - Day 82 – September 19 2013 – Summary
Judge Yvette Palazuelos told the jury she’s allowing Jacksons attorneys to reopen their case briefly.
Allan Metzger Testimony
Attorney Deborah Chang did direct examination. He said he was traveling, returned 2-3 weeks ago. He gave his deposition in September of 2012, about 3 years after Michael Jackson died. He worked with MJ for 25-30 years. The doctor explained he didn’t have all the medical records when he gave deposition, they were spread around to coroners, attorneys.
When Chang asked if Dr. Metzger reviewed trial transcript of Debbie Rowe, AEG attorneys objected and asked for a sidebar. ( Side note: Dr. Metzger and Debbie Rowe have the same attorney, Eric George, the son of former California Chief of Justice Ronald George.)
Dr. Metzger treated other celebrities during his 46-year medical career. He said it’s not unusual for them to use aliases. The doctor said he became very close to Michael Jackson. He started seeing him in 1983 for discoid lupus. After, there was the burn incident. “His pain became unbearable,” he explained.
Dr. Metzger’s daughter was the first one to visit Neverland. She went as part of a charity organization visit, DreamStreet Foundation. The doctor said Neverland was a place of peace. He visited it 12-15 times, sometimes with friends, family, help feed the kids. MJ supervised. Dr. Metzger: MJ dealt with a lot of adversity with generally a positive attitude. I don’t know anyone can share his degree of charity, the doctor said. Dr. Metzger said sometimes MJ would ask about a disease he wanted to know about, but generally didn’t discuss with him the charities.
Normally, Michael was very protective of his short films. But he trusted some people, and Dr. Metzger was one of them.
Over the next several years, he had a terrible burn, issues with his back and neck, he said. The discoid lupus was very scary to him, Dr. Metzger said, and the burns came on top of the discoid. The discoid could travel from his scalp to his face, leading to disfigurement.
Dr. Metzger said Lionel Richie approached MJ and ion one day he wrote “We Are The World” song. Richie did the music. He and Lionel were able to put so many influential people for charity, Dr. Metzger said. Chang played part of “We Are The World” video clip, with major music stars singing it. The song raised money for humanitarian efforts.
Dr. Metzger worked together with Dr. Klein, Sasaki and Hoefflin. MJ’s diseases were incurable (lupus and vitiligo). He said he did pre-operative examination before MJ’s surgeries. I always liked to review what kind of medications he was taking to make sure there was no interaction, Dr. Metzger testified.
Chang: Would you say the first 10 years you saw him were very difficult?
Dr. Metzger: Yes, very difficult
Chang asked about Metzger’s reference that MJ was “doctor shopping.” He explained it was a slang doctors used by the doctors who treated MJ. Dr. Metzger: When he was out of our presence, because he travelled so much, he would use hotel doctor. Dr. Metzger: MJ had to shop around in the city for quality physicians for himself and his children. Dr. Metzger said he was always involved in MJ’s medical care because he wanted to make sure MJ was safe.
Michael was very private, Dr. Metzger opined. He said often he wanted to know about his medical care, but often didn’t. He’d rely on others and had faith in the medical profession, Dr. Metzger said. “He often bounced things off me.”
Chang: Was your belief he looked for doctors to get drugs?
Dr. Metzger: No
Chang: Do you believe he was your friend so he could get prescription drugs from you?
Dr. Metzger: Absolutely not! I never gave him Demerol or any hard narcotics.
Dr. Metzger: I worked with Karen Faye, Debbie Rowe, Grace Rwamba.
Dr. Metzger: I was in touch, not as spies, but wanted to have fingers on the pulse of what was going on with my buddy.
On numerous occasions, Debbie Rowe would talk to Dr. Metzger when she thought other doctors were giving MJ too many painkillers. He said he thinks it’s because Rowe thought he could do something about it.
Dr. Metzger: No. I saw him groggy but never drunk.
Chang: Did you personally ever see MJ under the influence?
I did not ever ever see him intoxicated with too many pain medications, he said.
Dr. Metzger: I wasn’t concerned about anesthesia, I was always concerned about too many surgeries.
Dr. Metzger said he would agree that MJ needed the majority of the surgeries he underwent, specially after the burn.
Dr. Metzger said he did several examinations of Michael for insurance prior to tours. Metzger: I was informed he’d (Forecast) be taking over the medical role, and I would not be needed because of the distance.
Dangerous tour: Dr. Metzger got a call during the tour. There were couple of issues related to dehydration and Dr. Forecast administering Demerol. Sleep issues: That was the first time I was aware of the issue, didn’t have problems in Bad tour, the doctor said. Dr. Metzger: I think we had 2-3 discussions on how to lower the dose of Demerol. Chang: Did you try to work with Forecast to resolve the issue? Dr. Metzger: I don’t know if he didn’t follow my recommendations or it didn’t work.
Dr. Metzger said he watched MJ’s short video “Ghost.” Chang showed photo of Dr. Metzger and Michael Jackson as the white mayor. Chang: Did he enjoy going out incognito? Dr. Metzger: Oh, he loved it!.
The doctor said MJ always had a message in his short film, that humans should be human beings to each other. Chang played clip of “Heal the World” film and “Earth Song.” Dr. Metzger watched them with somber face, shook his head to the beat at times. It’s hard to see that, Dr. Metzger expressed after movies were played, somewhat emotional.
Metzger said MJ approached him to go on “HIStory” tour. He thought it would be fun, wanted doc to be best man on his wedding to Debbie Rowe. Chang showed letter from Metzger to insurance company that he’d be accompanying MJ, cast members and crew (180-190 people) in HIStory tour Dr. Metzger: I basically asked for nothing (payment). I knew this would be an honor, would bill based on being needed. He said he would’ve charged his normal house call rate, if they needed him during the tour. In the tour, his main responsibility was with Michael Jackson. He said he was never approached by a promoter/producer with a contract. Dr. Metzger said he never had the issue where he had to put MJ in danger to continue the tour. I never put in jeopardy his health for performance, he said.
Chang showed Murray’s contract to Metzger and asked if he was ever given a contract that says doctor could be terminated by the producer. I’ve never seen a document like this, Dr. Metzger said. He said he would’ve never signed a document that had that clause in it, it’s a conflict of interest. Chang: Were would your allegiance fall, with the producer or patient? Dr. Metzger: Of course the patient, regardless if it was MJ or not
Dr. Metzger said he knew MJ was going to get married to Debbie Rowe during the HIStory tour. During the tour he found out Rowe was pregnant. Chang: Did he enjoy being a father? Dr. Metzger: Very much so. The doctor said MJ always wanted to be a father.
Dr. Metzger: The relationship was extremely loving, non fearful. Dr. Metzger: I see he did a wise thing over the years of not exposing their faces, so they could go out and not be recognized. It was a beautiful, caring, solid relationship, Dr. Metzger explained.
The doctor said he saw several MJ shows, but nothing like what he saw in Sydney, Australia. Chang played snippet of the show. Dr. Metzger saw all the shows in Australia. He said MJ would lose 7-8 pounds after each performance.
In his deposition, Dr. Metzger said he didn’t remember who Paul Gongaware was. He said he didn’t have all his records with him.
Chang: As the HIStory tour doctor, were you concerned with MJ’s sleeping disorder during the second leg of the tour? Dr. Metzger: Yes, I was
The doctor wrote a letter detailing a plan to help MJ sleep. He said he sent a copy of it to the producer, MJ, Karen Faye, Debbie Rowe. I know that Michael can’t sleep when he’s creating, or after he was creating, he always wanted to make it better, Dr. Metzger recalled. The doctor said he didn’t think there was a plan for Dangerous tour. He didn’t think a good job was done then. Dangerous was cut short so MJ could enter rehab. Dr. Metzger said Dr. Forecast gave MJ too much Demerol. I wanted to be proactive and ready, the doctor said about HIStory tour. He testified he sent a copy of the plan to Gongaware, as producer. MJ was really tired and very frustrated, he felt he wasn’t performing well, Dr. Metzger said about his sleepiness.
Chang: In the 26 years you worked with MJ did he ever ask you for Propofol before the HIStory tour?
Metzger: Those words were never said by MJ
Chang: Did MJ ever ask you to find someone to infuse anesthesia in him?
Dr. Metzger: No
When not under stress, the doctor said MJ could sleep on Tylenol PM, which generally worked.
Dr. Metzger: I had one phone conversation in 2009 and I visited him in April 2009.
Chang: At that time, did MJ ask you for any narcotic or prescription drugs?
Dr. Metzger: No
Chang: Did he ever seek painkillers to get high?
Dr. Metzger: No, I don’t believe this was in any way recreational
Dr. Metzger said MJ was more stressed when he saw him in April 2009 than during the phone call in Feb. 2009. The doctor said the stress was related to “Can I do 50 shows?” MJ indicated he could not sleep, the doc said. “This time he was in a totally different place,” Dr. Metzger said. The doctor said he had free access to the house and the children. “I was ecstatic to see the children,” the doctor said. He was allowed upstairs at Carolwood, did not see any locked doors, medical equipment or oxygen tanks. I had a feeling that any IV given in a home is potentially precarious, Dr. Metzger explained. After leaving the house, Dr. Metzger said he called a few colleagues to see if there was any other medication or avenues to help MJ sleep. He spoke with the head of anesthesia at Cedars Sinai, since anesthesiologists have to manage pain and sleep. I needed advice getting him to sleep and I also asked about a doctor in London, Dr. Metzger explained. I don’t remember if I called back or just relay the message I couldn’t help, the doctor said. Dr. Metzger: Basically he said any IV treatment is potentially dangerous, that he didn’t know anyone who would administer IV anesthesia. April 18, 2009 was the last time Dr. Metzger saw MJ alive.
Dr Metzger: One of the things he discussed was Diprivan.
Chang showed Dr. Metzger the picture of MJ during fitting on June 19, 2009.
Chang: Did he look like this?
Dr. Metzger: Oh no, not at all
C: Would you’ve been concerned?
Dr. M: Oh yes, oh yes
(During lunch break: Outside the presence of the jury, Deborah Chang argued she doesn’t think it’s appropriate for the court to sanction. Chang gave 38 pages of Debbie Rowe’s testimony to Dr. Metzger to read. Judge had ruled that non-retained expert witnesses should not be given copies of other witnesses’ testimony. Chang: I don’t think it was intentional violation of court’s order. I believe we acted in good faith. Judge: The good faith exception, huh? Judge then precluded plaintiffs from asking anything related to the issue German doctors and Propofol used to sleep. Bina: He already testified without the taint of someone else’s testimony. Even if she acted in good faith, it irreparably tainted his memory. Bina said she’s asking for fair remedy here, which is keep this part out of Dr. Metzger’s out. Bina said Chang corrupted the witness by giving another witness’ version of the events so he was able to taylor his answer according to hers Cahan said the 38 pages of Rowe’s testimony detailed the set up the anesthesiologist in German, logistic, what drugs have been provided. There’s no other way to fix this other than keep it out, Cahan urged the judge. Panish: What we did, show him the testimony, is appropriate. Non-retained experts can be refreshed. This is about refreshing his recollection with someone else’s memory, Bina argued. Panish: Defense will argue MJ had long history of use of Propofol. The evidence here is that Propofol was used in connection with surgeries. Bina: We can never get back what Dr. Metzger’s memory actually was. Judge: Ok, I’m ready to rule. I’m excluding it. )
Chang: Do you recall having a conversation with Paul Gongaware about MJ’s inability to sleep?
Dr. Metzger: Yes, I do.
Cahan inquired about the time of deposition whether Dr. Metzger had MJ’s medical files. Dr. Metzger: Some of my records were given to my attorney at the time, didn’t keep medical records. There may be an insurance file and one major file, the doctor said. His counsel did not give his medical record prior to his deposition. Dr. Metzger said that at the time of his deposition, he received a great amount of the file back, but it was out of order and missing pages.
I told the truth to the best of my ability, Dr. Metzger said about his deposition and his trial testimony.
The doctor said he looked at some of MJ’s medical records over the past several days. “I did not look at 26 years of medical records.” Dr. Metzger said he had, in bits and pieces, taken care of other Jackson’s family members, including MJ’s children. The doctor was very close to MJ and moderately close to the children.
Q: And it seems like you also had a very close relationship with Michael’s children, correct?
In depo Dr. Metzger’s said: Dr. Metzger said he had a moderately close relationship with the children in comparison with his relationship to MJ. He said there were times the children went to his house for dinner, went to the movies.
Dr. Metzger met Katherine Jackson many years ago, he said. He provided some medical care to her last summer. He gave Mrs. Jackson advice about traveling because of her health. Dr. Metzger: I advised her to fly to Arizona for a concert. I do not know where she was in Arizona, I did not advise her to go to a spa. Janet and Randy asked me to evaluate her health, Dr. Metzger said. “I’ve previously taken care of Janet many years ago.” I’m well acquainted with the immediate Jackson family and some other members, the doctor said.
I viewed Michael as a very good friend of mine and I think it was vice-versa, Dr. Metzger testified.
Dr. Metzger said he spoke with Chang on the phone about 2 weeks ago and met her in person with his attorney 2-3 nights ago for an hour. Doctor said he was out of town from middle of July until mid-Aug. Early July he advised plaintiffs’ counsel about his absence. Dr. Metzger first spoke with plaintiffs’ attorneys about testifying back in April or May. He has been subpoenaed. Dr. Metzger said Chang told him she had an attorney to refer that she thought would suit his needs. She recommended Eric George.
Cahan: Did plaintiffs’ counsel help you find an attorney?
Dr. Metzger: Yes
C: How much does he charge?
Dr. M: I don’t know
Cahan: Are plaintiffs’ paying for your attorney in this case?
Dr. Metzger: I believe so.
The doctor said he reached out to Debbie Rowe after seeing in the media that she testified in this case. He wanted to give her some support. At that time, Rowe also said Eric George was a good attorney.
Cahan asked if the doc is charging plaintiffs anything to be here today.
Dr. Metzger: I’ll be sending a bill at the end of the trial.
Dr. Metzger: I believe it’s reasonable for my time reviewing the records, giving deposition and testimony in this case.
The doctor said he’s spent about 6 hours of his time. Cahan asked how much he charges and he said he was not comfortable disclosing his rate. Cahan asked the judge to order him to answer, which judge did. He said he charges approximately $1,000/hour. There were no negotiations, I basically said this is my fee and they said ok, Dr. Metzger explained. As to his attorney, Metzger said he knows there’s an arrangement for payment by the plaintiffs and there’s also an arrangement between the two
Cahan: Have you spoken with Jackson’s family members about this lawsuit?
Dr. Metzger: Basically no
My recollection I did not speak with any single member of the family about this lawsuit, Dr. Metzger testified.
The doctor said his relationship with Michael Jackson was the closest he has ever had with any patient. He went to Neverland 12-15 times. He went to MJ’s CenturyCity house, saw MJ at Dr. Klein’s house and office, saw him in NY, Australia, best man of his wedding to Ms. Rowe. He was both, Dr. Metzger said about MJ being a friend and patient. “I always had his best interest at heart.” I don’t believe I ever crossed any ethical boundaries withMichael Jackson, Dr. Metzger said. The doctor said he understands the Hippocratic Oath to have his patients first, do no harm. Dr. Metzger: In my view, I always maintained proper boundaries. A lot of physicians would not socialize with patients. Dr. Metzger: MJ was the most social I was with my patients.
He really didn’t like taking medicine Metzger said. “I think he needed medicine because he had low pain threshold when undergoing surgery” He needed it, he didn’t take it for joy, Dr. Metzger said. Dr. Metzger said he believes he never gave MJ Demerol. “Absolutely not,” he responded to the question. Dr. Metzger: At some juncture on that tour (Dangerous), I believe I arranged for Karen, Debbie or security team to bring some medicine to MJ
Cahan: Was that in Aug 1993?
Dr. Metzger: I don’t recall.
Cahan: Do you remember sending pain medication?
Dr. Metzger: Yes, there was some form of pain medication
Cahan: Do you remember sending some Demerol?
Dr. Metzger: I don’t personally believe I prescribed MJ Demerol. It could’ve come from Dr. Klein if it was in the package.
I don’t remember ever writing a prescription for Michael about Demerol, Dr. Metzger explained.
Dr. Metzger admitted he used Karen Faye’s name to prescribe medicine for MJ.
I’ve done it on rare occasions, almost exclusively for MJ and Janet, Dr. Metzger said.
Cahan: Even though you knew it’s illegal?
Dr. Metzger: Yes
Dr. M: To protect their anonymity
Cahan: Have you ever been reprimanded or disciplined for writing prescriptions on someone else’s name?
( Chang asked for a sidebar. Outside jury’s presence there was discussion about Cahan asking if Metzger was reprimanded for writing prescription under other people’s name Bina: Dr. Metzger pled no contest to a misdemeanor for misconduct. There’s a petition for suspension of Dr. Metzger’s medical license. Bina argued the appropriate remedy should be to strike the question and bar the line of questioning. Cahan apologized saying she misunderstood the court order. She said she thought it had to do with other patients other than MJ and KJ. Panish: She did it intentionally, was setting him up. It was a premeditated plan. It’s not admissible, she severely prejudiced this witness. Panish wants an admonition read and wants to be allowed to talk about the German doctors. Chang argued Cahan did it in bad faith. “The jury is left with the idea that he’s a criminal, that he’d do anything for MJ,” she said. I honestly don’t know what to do to fix it, Chang said. “I just want to throw myself on the floor and cry.” Judge will read an instruction to the jury that Cahan’s question was improper and they should disregard it or anything implied by it. Judge admonished Cahan not to ask anything about it. )
Dr. Metzger said he travelled to Australia with Debbie Rowe, was there for about 2 weeks. This was HIStory tour. Dr Metzger never rejoined the tour after he came back to LA. “My schedule and MJ particularly wanted me there for the wedding and Australia” He didn’t need me and I didn’t need to be there, he said. Dr. Metzger recalled treating MJ for mild dehydration while in Australia. The doc talked about the plan he wrote to help MJ sleep. He said MJ gave permission for him to share plan with Rowe, Faye and security guards. Michael needed to be told what to do, Dr. Metzger said. The plan detailed what to do before flights and after performances. He was uncomfortable and a little fearful of flying, Dr. Metzger explained.
Cahan: Did doctor shopping included Mr. Jackson segregating physicians?
Dr. Metzger: Often I’d not hear about other physicians. I’d hear from security or the ladies if it was serious. At times, I think he probably did keep things from me because he didn’t want me to worry, Dr. Metzger testified.
Dr. Metzger: I always asked him to go thru the hotel, because the hotel had responsibility to hire competent physician.
Cahan: Do you think MJ wanted to keep information from one doctor to another so he could more or less do what he wanted?
Dr. Metzger: No
Cahan played video deposition in the insurance company lawsuit where Dr. Metzger said MJ would segregate his doctors. Dr. Metzger on depo: I think he didn’t want to appear he was doctor shopping. Dr. Metzger: I think he didn’t want one medical group to know about another medical group so he could, more or less, do what he wanted.
Plans as of now ALL SUBJECT TO CHANGE: – Witness done tomorrow morning, arguments and
motions in the pm – Jury to be instructed on MONDAY. Closing plaintiff – TUESDAY – Closing defendant – WEDNESDAY – Rebuttal plaintiff – THURSDAY