Britney Spears’ former manager’s defamation trial `to focus on public meltdown`
Washington: Britney Spears’ dark meltdown days are about to be revisited in a Los Angeles courtroom – but not by the singer herself.
Instead, jurors will begin hearing testimony next week on claims by her former manager that he was vilified and unfairly blamed for the singer’s public meltdown more than four years ago.
Spears’ parents are defendants and will likely testify, but the panel won’t hear directly from the 30-year-old singer, Fox News reported.
Former Spears confidante Sam Lutfi is seeking millions of dollars from the Grammy winner and her family, claiming that her mother’s book lied about him drugging and isolating the pop superstar.
Lufti is also seeking a portion of the singer’s profits, claiming that he was a key player in her 2007 album ‘Blackout` and had the right to serve as her manager for years.
Instead, the singer spent much of that time recovering under a court-ordered conservatorship, with her father and fiancé continuing to exert control over her personal life.
It is highly unlikely that the star will be a witness during the trial, although a judge has said she will consider a request by Lutfi’s attorney to call Spears as a witness mid-trial if necessary.
A probate judge overseeing Spears’ conservatorship has ruled that the singer’s caretakers should not allow her to testify “under any circumstances.”
Lutfi’s attorney has cited that the singer’s record tour and her current role as a judge on ‘The X Factor’ as reasons for why the singer should testify, but he may have to settle for the testimony of Spears’ divorced parents, father Jamie and mother Lynne.
The case is the culmination of years of acrimony between Lutfi and Spears’ family and conservators, who successfully obtained a restraining order against him to keep him from contacting the singer or trying to intervene in her life.
The order has expired, but conservatorship attorneys are seeking repayment for more than 93,000 dollars in legal fees - a judgment Lutfi is appealing.
Lutfi sued in February 2009; roughly a year after Spears was hospitalized and placed under the conservatorship to take control of her health and finances.
The move by Jamie Spears came after months of erratic behavior by his daughter, including shaving her head, speaking in a British accent and other bizarre incidents that also led to her losing custody of her two sons with ex-husband Kevin Federline.
Lutfi was always present around Spears during the tumultuous period. In his court case he maintains that he was trying to help her, though her parents paint a more sinister picture. They say Lutfi drugged and isolated their daughter -- cutting her phone line and hiding her cellphones -- and used the paparazzi as “henchmen.”