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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Jackson 'owes ex-associate $3.8m'
Michael Jackson
Jackson made a recent appearance at Japan's MTV Music Video Awards
A former business associate of Michael Jackson is owed $3.8m (2.1m) after ceasing to be paid when the star ran out of money, a US court has been told.

In a statement during jury selection, the lawyer for Marc Schaffel said his client had been "left holding the bag".

Mr Jackson's lawyer said evidence would show Mr Schaffel actually owed money to the pop star.

The singer is not expected to appear in court as he currently lives in Bahrain, but video depositions will be played.

Mr Schaffel is suing Mr Jackson in California for money he says he is owed for working on a charity record that was never released and two television documentaries, as well as for expenses and loans that were not repaid.

"Schaffel was asked to do crisis control" after the British TV documentary Living With Michael Jackson was shown, said Howard King, Mr Schaffel's lawyer.

Mr Jackson's lawyer, Thomas Mundell, said his client had hired Mr Schaffel to produce the charity record but severed ties with him after learning he had no record industry expertise and was a producer of gay pornography.

The pop star has filed a counter-claim that Marc Schaffel failed to pay costs from the song production and kept sculptures and paintings worth $250,000 (138,000).

Mr Jackson also alleges that Mr Schaffel continued to represent himself as affiliated with the star after their business arrangement ended.

Jurors quizzed

Prospective jurors were asked how much they knew about the singer, and whether they held any opinions that might prejudice them during the trial.

Among the 12 jurors selected to hear the action were three people who said they thought Mr Jackson was guilty of child abuse, despite his acquittal on charges last year.

Lawyer Howard King with Marc Schaffel outside court in Santa Monica
Mr Schaffel (r) is the "unfamous party" in court, said lawyer Howard King (l)
One woman who said that would "colour" her decision-making in the civil case was accepted on to the panel.

But a man who said that he thought Jackson possibly had a "character flaw" was dismissed.

Lawyers for Mr Schaffel dismissed another man who said: "It seems Mr Jackson is being targeted for lawsuits because they think he has large amounts of money to pay off."

Two prospective jurors said that the case should have been settled out of court, with one saying: "It's just about money."

Another, a retired nurse, said she had met the singer when he was treated after his hair caught fire during the filming of a commercial.

"He was wonderful with the kids," she said.

Video depositions

Alternate jurors are expected to be selected on Thursday, followed by opening statements.

Mr Mundell has confirmed that the singer is not expected to appear at the court.

"I'd love for him to be here, but he lives in Bahrain, which is 10 time zones away," he said.

Video depositions from the singer are to be played in court.

Transcripts of the depositions suggest Mr Jackson's "memory of key events is fuzzy", according to the BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles.

Mr Jackson was acquitted of child molestation last June after a four-month trial.

Latest Jackson trial due to start
28 Jun 06 |  Entertainment
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06 May 06 |  Entertainment
Jackson 'abuse' action dismissed
18 Apr 06 |  Entertainment
Jackson sues pay claim associate
27 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
Businessman sues singer Jackson
17 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Michael Jackson cleared of abuse
14 Jun 05 |  Entertainment


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