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Doctor told AEG that Michael Jackson was a drug addict, lawyer says

The attorney for Michael Jackson’s family in its wrongful-death lawsuit said Thursday a doctor testified in a deposition that he injected Jackson with morphine while the singer was touring Asia and that he told a current AEG executive Jackson was a drug addict.

According to Brian Panish, the attorney for Jackson’s mother and three children, Dr. Stuart Finklestein said that while the Dangerous tour was in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1993 he couldn’t give Jackson an injection of morphine in his buttocks because there was too much scar tissue from previous shots. Instead, according to Panish, Finklestein said he gave the singer an IV drip of the drug for 24 hours.

Paul Gongaware, now co-chief executive of AEG Live/Concerts West was manager of the worldwide tour.

FULL COVERAGE: AEG wrongful death trial

Finklestein "told Gongaware that it was his opinion [Jackson] had an opiate addiction,” Panish said.

Gongaware testified Thursday that he did know then that Jackson had problems with drugs or painkillers until the singer made a public announcement. Jackson cut the tour short in Mexico City when Elizabeth Taylor flew down to accompany him to a rehab facility in London. 

“Everyone knew Michael had a problem,” Jackson’s longtime makeup artist and hairstylist, who was on the tour, testified earlier in the trial.

PHOTOS: Michael Jackson | 1958-2009

Gongaware testified that Jackson was scheduled to give two shows in Bangkok but that the second was canceled. He said Jackson performed the first concert in 100-degree heat with 100% humidity.

Gongaware said that another doctor was on the Dangerous tour to treat Jackson, and that Finklestein treated the band and crew. He said Finklestein told him he treated Jackson twice. 

Gongaware has testified that Finklestein is his regular doctor. 

A deposition is given under oath, just like testimony in a courtroom.

Panish, who spoke outside the courtroom, also said that Gongaware warned Finklestein, “Don’t be a Dr. Nick,” a reference to a doctor who supplied Elvis Presley with prescription drugs that led to his death.

“He’s telling him, 'Don’t kill him,’” Panish said.

Finklestein is expected to testify is the case.

In an email to The Times, AEG attorney Marvin S. Putnam blasted the Jacksons' attorneys, saying that "throughout this trial, they have shown that their search is for something else entirely, and certainly not the truth."

He went on to say that shortly before the third leg of the tour, Jackson underwent painful scalp surgery after suffering severe burns while filming a Pepsi commercial.  

"Mr. Gongaware was aware that because of that surgery, Michael Jackson received pain medication at times during the tour. Mr. Gongaware never learned Mr. Jackson developed any problems with that medication until after the tour ended, when Mr. Gongaware -- like the rest of the world -- heard Mr. Jackson's public announcement that he was entering rehab."

The Jacksons are suing AEG, Gongaware and AEG Live Chief Executive and President Randy Phillips, saying they negligently hired and supervised Conrad Murray, the physician who gave the singer a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol.

The defendants say that Jackson hired Murray and that any payments the company was supposed to give him were advances to Jackson.

Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

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