Jackson Misses Court, Judge Orders Medical Exam
Thu Dec 5, 6:10 PM ET
SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Reuters) - A Santa Maria judge on Thursday ordered pop star Michael Jackson to undergo a medical examination after the pop star failed to show up for court because of a spider bite.
Jackson was scheduled to face further cross-examination in a $21 million lawsuit over canceled millennium concerts, but instead was absent from the courthouse in Santa Maria, about 170 miles north of Los Angeles in central California.
Superior Court Judge Zel Canter, after meeting with attorneys in his chambers, said Jackson -- who is being sued by German concert promoter Marcel Avram for breach of contract -- had offered what appeared to be a legitimate medical issue.
Skip Miller, an attorney for Avram, angrily protested Jackson's absence and said it was obvious that the self-styled King of Pop was trying to dodge cross-examination.
"We've got an order from the court for an independent medical examination," Miller said. "This is the third time he has either not shown up or been late (for cross-examination)."
Jackson's attorney, Zia Modabber, said, "Mr Jackson is injured and needs medical attention and he's getting it. Today would have been his sixth day on the stand. He's not afraid of this courtroom."
The pop star arrived at court on Tuesday on crutches and missing one shoe, telling reporters that he had been bitten by a spider that crawled from the brush at his Neverland Valley Ranch, about 30 miles from Santa Maria.
He was still hobbling around the courthouse on crutches on Wednesday, but spent a full day testifying in the case, nearly all of that time facing questions from his own attorneys.
Miller said it was no coincidence that Jackson was able to shrug off the spider bite when his own lawyers were asking the questions, but had to stay home when facing the prospect of cross-examination by Avram's attorneys.
Jackson's lawyers denied that the entertainer was malingering.
Avram claims in his lawsuit that Jackson agreed to perform charity shows in Seoul and Munich in 1999 and millennium concerts in Sydney and Honolulu -- hopping the international dateline to ring in the new year twice.
But after Jackson performed the two shows for charity, Avram claims, he backed out of the for-profit millennium events, costing the promoter millions of dollars.
Jackson denies pulling out of the millennium shows and claims Avram canceled them because "the government" would not allow them to fly across the international dateline on New Year's Eve.
The singer has said he did not remember which government objected to the flight.