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Britney Spears, parents battle ex-manager in L.A. civil trial

Britney Spears
Los Angeles County jurors on Thursday began hearing opening statements in a lawsuit brought by the man who acted as singer Britney Spears' manager during a portion of the tumultuous time that ended with a court giving her father control over her affairs and finances.

Osama "Sam" Lutfi is suing Britney Spears for breach of contract for allegedly failing to pay his 15% fee; her father, James, for battery for allegedly punching him in the stomach; and her mother for libel for allegedly accusing him in a memoir of drugging the singer.

Lutfi's attorney wasted no time bringing out some of the sensational details during the star's troubled past -– particularly in 2007, when attorney Joseph Schleimer said Spears was a drug addict with her life in "complete shambles."

He showed paparazzi shots that have been seen all around the world -- a dead-eyed, makeup smeared Britney Spears shaving her head in a Tarzana hair salon and attacking an SUV with an umbrella -- but when they appeared as items of evidence in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, they seemed to take on a new harshness.

The pop star's mother, Lynne, a party in a civil trial playing out in Superior Court, looked stricken in the spectator gallery as the shots flashed onto a video monitor.

Schleimer told jurors that in reality his client was working "sometimes 24 hours a day" to break Spears' amphetamine addiction and that her parents had used him as "a scapegoat."

"We can divert all this bad publicity and say it was that guy and not Britney that caused this erratic behavior," he told jurors.

Lawyers for Spears and her parents are to deliver their opening remarks later. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Spears remains under a court-ordered conservatorship, and the judge overseeing it has said she cannot testify at the civil trial.

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-- Harriet Ryan

Photo: Britney Spears sings to a crowd of screaming fans in Columbus, Ohio, in November 2001. Credit: Matt Sullivan / Reuters

 
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