Ladies and gentlemen, grab your popcorn! The Los Angeles defamation lawsuit of the decade is underway. In one corner we have mother of Disney starlet, turned pop-sensation, turned don’- do-drugs poster-child, turned X-Factor judge, Lynne Spears. In the other corner we have Sam “I was Britney’s manager during breakdown-gate” Lufti.
Here’s the libel lowdown:
1) In 2008, Britney Spears’ mother, Lynne, wrote a book called “Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World.”
2) In 2009, Sam Lufti sued over accounts in the book that he allegedly tried to manipulate Britney.
3) Last month it was determined that Britney couldn’t testify at the trial on account of her conservatorship.
4) Jury selection started, in a Los Angeles court room, on Friday.
The Specific Accusations In This Los Angeles Defamation Lawsuit
The statements causing Lufti the most heartburn are accusations that he was a manipulative “general” that used the paparazzi as “henchmen” against the then-troubled starlet. According to reports, Lynne’s book painted Britney’s then-manager as a money hungry opportunist who would isolate and manipulate her fragile daughter. Essentially, Lynne blamed Sam for Britney’s now infamous public meltdown.
What Is Lufti Claiming? Libel.
Evidenced by his defamation lawsuit in Los Angeles, Mr. Lufti denies Lynne’s claims. In fact, he insists that he only ever had Brit’s best interests in mind. His decisions, he says, were based on him trying to get her off the bad stuff. The accusations, Lufti asserts, were so damaging that he has been “subjected to unfathomable amounts of ridicule and public scorn” since they were published.
Lufti is also suing for damages, claiming that he played a major role in the success of Britney’s 2007 album “Blackout” and therefore deserves to be compensated for such.
The Role “Actual Malice” Will Play In This Los Angeles Defamation Lawsuit
The Lufti v. Spears celebrity defamation kerfuffle will definitely involve discussion of actual malice. Why? Because Britney, Lynne and arguably Sam (hey, he thrust himself into the spotlight during his Spears’ sidekick years) are all public figures. Ever since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the groundbreaking case, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan that public figures, in a defamation lawsuit, must prove that their adversary acted with either a) reckless disregard for the truth or b) purposefully lied to cause material or reputational damage. As Spears’ lawyer put it, “the burden is on Lutfi to prove that the statements in the book are untrue and that his client knew they were false.”
This is not the first legal battle the Spears family has had with Lufti. Several years ago, they got a restraining order against the now-plaintiff that forbade him from being near or contacting Britney. That order has since expired.
The case is expected to take about three weeks and will be heard in a California court. Wonder if the true lottery winner of this whole saga, Kevin “popozao” Federline will get a few extra thou this month for babysitting, while the rest of the clan in caught up in court?
Update: The judge threw the case out! Looks like Lufti lost this Los Angeles defamation lawsuit.