Britney Spears’ mother has lost her bid to have a defamation claim by the pop princess’s former manager thrown out.
A three-member panel of the Second District Court of Appeal refused to rule that plaintiff Sam Lutfi had such a tarnished image that he could not sue for defamation.
Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, had asked the justices to become the first California court to adopt a “libel-proof doctrine” that a person cannot sue for defamation if their reputation is so bad that it cannot be further damaged by potentially false statements.
Sam sued Britney and Lynne for libel and defamation in February 2009, claiming he had been falsely accused of controlling the singer and grinding pills into her food during a turbulent period.
The lawsuit cited numerous passages from Lynne’s book, Through The Storm: A Real Story Of Fame And Family In A Tabloid World, in which she described him as a “Svengali” and “predator”.
Many of Lynne’s claims had been contained in court filings that led a judge to establish a conservatorship involving the singer in February 2008. At the time, Sam was expelled from Britney’s inner circle.
The singer’s father won a three-year restraining order in 2009 after he said Sam violated an agreement not to contact his daughter.
The appeals court noted that Lynne’s court statements regarding Sami’s actions and how they were reported by many news outlets made clear they were allegations.
“We find that Lutfi’s reputation was not so badly tarnished by the allegations in (Lynne) Spears’ court-filed declarations as to be immune from further damage,” the court opinion stated.
Sam’s defamation lawsuit will now return to Los Angeles Superior Court, where a status hearing is scheduled Feb. 25.