Libel trial to focus on Britney Spears' meltdown
FILE - This Jan. 31, 2008 video frame grab release by AP Television shows Sam Lutfi leaving UCLA medical center after visiting Britney Spears in Los Angeles. Testimony is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in a libel, defamation and breach of contract case filed against Spears and her parents by the singer’s former confidante and manager, Osama “Sam” Lutfi. He is seeking a share of Spears’ fortune and claims he has was unfairly vilified by the singer’s mother in her 2008 book, which accused Lutfi of drugging and isolating the pop star before she had to be hospitalized. (AP Photo/APTN, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears' darkest days are about to be revisited in a Los Angeles courtroom, but not by the resurgent pop singer.
Instead jurors will begin hearing testimony next week on claims by Spears' 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 Grammy winner.
Former Spears confidante Sam Lutfi is seeking millions of dollars from Spears and her family, claiming her mother's book lied about him drugging and isolating the pop superstar. He is also seeking a portion of the singer's profits, claiming 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 fiance continuing to exert control over her personal life. It is highly unlikely 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.
FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2008 file photo released by NBC, Lynne Spears, mother of singer Britney Spears and actress Jamie Lynne Spears is shown on the set of NBC's "Today," program, in New York. Testimony is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in a case filed against Lynne Spears by her daughter’s former manager and confidante, who claims her 2008 book defamed and libeled him by stating that he was isolating and drugging the troubled pop star. (AP Photo/NBC, Heidi Gutman, File) ** NO SALES **
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 the singer's record tour and her current role as a judge on Fox's "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 Spears and mother Lynne Spears.
Jury selection began Friday and will continue on Tuesday, with opening statements expected later in the week.
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 in legal fees — a judgment Lutfi is appealing.