A judge granted a motion by lawyers for Britney Spears’ self-described former manager to depose the singer in a retrial of a lawsuit against the pop star and her father, but under certain rules that include prohibiting the plaintiff from having any contact with the entertainer.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Meiers set the rules during a hearing Wednesday and her order stated they were based “largely on agreement between the parties.”
Plaintiff Osama “Sam” Lutfi originally filed the case in February 2009. The case was previously dismissed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Suzanne Brugera, but was reinstated in part last year by a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
The 34-year-old singer was not present during the first trial to fight Lutfi’s breach-of-contract claim because she was declared mentally incompetent to testify by the judge supervising her conservatorship and estate, both of which were established after the entertainer’s 2008 meltdown. She remains under the conservatorship, but now her deposition testimony will be allowed to go forward.
Under Wednesday’s order, Spears’ deposition will be taken at the offices of her conservatorship lawyers. The arrivals and departures of both Spears and Lutfi “is to be at staggered times … and (Lutfi) is to have no contact at all with Ms. Spears,” according to the order.
The deposition is to occur “in a large conference room with a long conference table,” the order reads. “Ms. Spears and her counsel are to be at one end and (Lutfi) at the other.”
Meiers is allowing the deposition to be videotaped and for a surveillance camera to be placed in the room, but its lens cannot zoom in on Lutfi.
“Any recording from this (surveillance) camera can only be used with regard to potential protective order and harassment matters,” the order
The order does not state a date for the deposition. The retrial is scheduled Oct. 11.
In March 2015, the appellate court reversed some of the rulings handed down in mid-trial by Brugera in November 2012, when she tossed all of Lutfi’s case against the singer and her parents, Jamie and Lynne Spears.
The justices ruled that Lutfi can have a retrial on his breach-of- contract allegation against Spears and battery claim against her father. All other allegations against Jamie Spears, and a defamation claim against Lynne Spears, remain dismissed.
Lutfi is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars based on his claim that in 2007, Britney Spears verbally promised him 15 percent of her earnings during a specified time period. He testified she told him she made $800,000 a month even when she was not working.
But attorney Joel Boxer, on behalf of the Britney Spears estate, says the terms of the contract as alleged by Lutfi were not supported by documentation.
Lutfi maintained that Jamie Spears committed battery by punching him in the stomach during a confrontation at his daughter’s home in January 2008. Jamie Spears’ attorney, Michael Aiken, said previously that Lutfi admitted he had only a “momentary incident of discomfort” and did not have any bruises or swelling.
Lutfi’s lawsuit also alleged he was defamed in portions of Lynne Spears’ book, “Through the Storm, A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World.” He maintained the book had false passages stating that he admitted throwing away the singer’s phone chargers and disabling her house phones in an attempt to isolate her from her family; that he ground up drugs and put them in her food; and that he disabled her cars.
But Lynne Spears testified the passages were true. Her lawyer, Stephen Rohde, said Lutfi acknowledged he was a “public figure” who had to prove malice, meaning that Lynne Spears either knew the information she wrote was false or did not care whether it was true or not. Lutfi never met that burden, Rohde said.
Lutfi also never challenged the singer’s mother when she wrote many of the same allegations in a sworn declaration in support of a restraining order against him on behalf of her daughter during her 2008 breakdown, Rohde said.
The Court of Appeal concluded Brugera ruled properly by dismissing Lutfi’s claims against Lynne Spears.
—City News Service
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