Judge throws out Britney Spears libel suit
Britney Spears' former confidante and self-professed manager failed to prove any of his libel and breach-of-contract claims against the singer's parents and her caretakers, a judge who dismissed his case midtrial ruled Thursday.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bruguera said an attorney for Sam Lutfi hadn't proven any of his claims in the case that centered on events before the singer's public meltdown more than four years ago.
Lutfi's side rested its case Tuesday, but Bruguera agreed with arguments by attorneys for Spears' father and her conservators that there wasn't sufficient evidence to send any of his claims to a jury.
Lutfi had sued Lynne Spears for libel and the singer's father, Jamie, for allegedly hitting him at the singer's mansion in an incident shortly before Jamie Spears and others were granted control over the singer's life. Lutfi also had alleged he was owed a 15% share of the singer's earnings, but Bruguera disagreed.
Lutfi left the courtroom without speaking to reporters, and attorneys on both sides of the case declined to comment.
The case centered on many of Britney Spears' darkest moments, including a pair of psychiatric hospitalizations that led to her father being named her conservator. Spears' father and her fiance, Jason Trawick, continue to serve as her conservators. The arrangement is overseen by a probate judge who had directed them not to allow the singer to appear at the trial.
Lutfi's attorney Joseph Schleimer had contended in opening statements that his client was made a scapegoat for Spears' downfall. He argued Spears' mother lied about allegations that Lutfi drugged the singer and isolated her from family, and said his close relationship with the paparazzi was a way to get them to be less unruly and more respectful of the Grammy winner.
Yet Lutfi failed to show that he had a binding management agreement that would have entitled him to 15% of the singer's profits from her 2007 album “Blackout” and other projects.
Lutfi sued in 2009, the same year that Spears' conservators obtained a restraining order against him to stop trying to contact her or meddle in her affairs.
He told jurors he endured death threats after the publication of Lynne Spears' book, “Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World,” and he alleged that the experience left him depressed and suicidal.
-- Associated Press
Photo: Britney Spears performs during the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller / May 22, 2011)