Money dispute between Michael Jackson, ex-associate goes to jury

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[b]Money dispute between Michael Jackson, ex-associate goes to jury[/b] LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press SANTA MONICA, Calif. – A bitter money dispute between Michael Jackson and a former associate was placed in the hands of jurors Thursday after the singer’s lawyer portrayed plaintiff F. Marc Schaffel as a man who betrayed the star and urged them to “send him from this courtroom with nothing.” Schaffel’s lawyer contended in rebuttal that jurors should use a special logic in dealing with the case, a logic that exists only in “Michael world, not our world.” “It’s a world where a superstar professes love for Marc Schaffel and entrusts him … Michael world – a world without receipts,” said attorney Howard King.

[MJEOL NOTE: Schaffel is the only one without receipts and documentation. Jackson’s attorneys have presented documentation to support their case.]

Schaffel claims Jackson owes him $1.4 million in loans and expenses. Jackson countersued and his attorney, Thomas Mundell, told the jury that Schaffel actually owes the pop star $660,000. In final remarks King urged jurors to accept circumstantial evidence, testimony from various witnesses about expenditures Schaffel made in the interest of promoting Jackson’s record, “What More Can I Give,” and $300,000 for a mysterious trip to South America. He pointed out that Jackson’s lawyers never asked the purpose of the trip. “They either know precisely why this money was delivered or they don’t want to know and they don’t want you to know,” King said.

[MJEOL NOTE: The forensic accountant who investigated Schaffel’s accounts stated that there was no $300,000 for a mysterious trip to South America. He found “there is no check, no moneys leaving a bank … no bank statements, no ledgers” showing this transaction.]

Mundell suggested the case could have easily been settled without a trial if not for Schaffel’s huge claims. “We did not pick this lawsuit. We did not pick this fight,” he said. “We are only here because Mr. Schaffel decided to sue Mr. Jackson,” the attorney said. He said all the money Schaffel obtained from business dealings on Jackson projects belonged to Jackson and not to Schaffel. He read to jurors a voice mail message to Schaffel in which Jackson said, “Marc, please, please, never let me down. I have been betrayed so much by people. I want us to be friends and I want us to conquer the business world. Be my loyal, loyal, loyal friend.” Mundell concluded, “Members of the jury, Marc Schaffel was not Mr. Jackson’s loyal friend. I ask you to send him from this courtroom with nothing.” Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor had already instructed jurors in the law before the summations and, in an unusual move, she allowed two alternate jurors to sit in on deliberations. They were not to speak unless called upon to substitute for a regular juror. She told them that only nine of the 12 jurors need to agree on any one cause of action for a verdict, but the same nine do not need to agree on each action. They must rule on complaints by Schaffel as well as cross-complaints by Jackson. The five-page verdict form includes numerous questions that must be answered by the jury. The judge’s jury instructions, which dealt with both the initial suit and the countersuit, addressed the question of Jackson’s reliance on Schaffel, saying, “You must determine the reasonableness of Michael Jackson’s reliance by taking into account his mental capacity, knowledge and experience.” Schaffel initially sued for $3.8 million but the claims were cut to $1.6 million, and on Thursday his attorney asked for $1.4 million. Source: Associated Press

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