As the first day of a $40 billion wrongful death lawsuit got under way in a Los Angeles courtroom yesterday, the Jackson family's lawyer Brian Panish claimed AEG Live - who were behind the singer's ill-fated 'This Is It' comeback concerts before his death in June 2009 - failed to properly vet Michael's physician and ignored his previous drug addiction in order to profit on his residence at The O2 in London.

Speaking in court, he said: 'When a red flag comes up, do you turn away or do you look into it? AEG ignored red flags and hired Dr. Murray. Michael Jackson, Dr. Conrad Murray and AEG Live each played a part in the ultimate result - the death of Michael Jackson.'

The court also heard that AEG, amidst competition from other concert promoters, hastened the late singer's comeback for profit by having Dr. Murray administer Michael drugs - despite his previous addiction troubles. The lawyer alleged: 'You don't do that with white gloves. You do what you've got to do if you want to be number one in this rough business of concert promotions. There were no rules. It didn't matter what it took. They didn't care who got lost in the wash. Forget about helping Mr. Jackson. The show must go on. Over the years Michael's family and people who knew him believed he had a problem with prescription medication. His stirring voice, his musical genius, his creativity and his generosity and his huge heart was extinguished forever.'

The attorney exhibited evidence to support his claim the company were aware of Michael's issues, reading an email sent by AEG boss Randy Phillips about MJ's drunken behaviour the night prior to his O2 residency announcement in March 2009.

The correspondence sent to the former head of AEG's parent company, Tim Leiweke, said: 'He is an emotionally paralysed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it's show time. He's scared to death.'

However, the organisation's lawyer Marvin Putman denied AEG was aware of Michael's use of Propofol and had no access to private information between him and his doctor saying 'Michael Jackson fooled everyone. He made sure no one knew his deepest, darkest secrets.'

The trial is expected to last three months and it's thought several stars, including Michael's sister Janet Jackson, singer Diana Ross, filmmaker Spike Lee, musician Prince and music producer Quincy Jones could be called to the stand to give evidence.