Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oops... She Lost It Again!

Cover of "Through the Storm: A Real Story...Cover via AmazonLynne Irene Spears, pop chanteuse Britney Spears' mama, may believe her daughter's former manager, Sam Lufti, is Overprotected, Lucky, Crazy and Toxic, but it's too soon to Turn Off the Lights on his defamation suit.

Spears was unable to convince a California appellate court to adopt the "libel-proof" defense, according to a story in the weekly Beverly Hills Courier, so Lufti's defamation suit against her based on her 2008 book, Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World will proceed.

Lufti filed suit on Feb. 3, 2009, in Los Angeles County Superior Court. His 15-page complaint, Sam Lufti v. Lynne Irene Spears, James Parnell Spears, Britney Spears, et al (Case No. BC406904) included counts alleging defamation, libel, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract and quantum meruit. In August of last year, Superior Court Judge Zaven V. Sinanian denied Lynne Spears' motion to dismiss the defamation claim on the grounds that her statements constituted protected speech, ruling that the passages targeted in her book by Lufti, if proven false, sufficiently supported a defamation claim.

Spears appealed the ruling to the California Second District Court of Appeal (Case No. B218211), saying remarks about the plaintiff in her book, including calling him "shifty," a "predator," and a "fake" who was "planning evil" by isolating Britney from her family through actions such as throwing away the pop diva's phone chargers and disabling her house phones, were not defamatory because Lufti is "libel-proof."

The idea behind the defense, which has not been accepted in any California case law, is that an individual's reputation already is so sullied that the individual can't be defamed by attacks on his/her character.  It has been applied in other jurisdictions, including "TUOL"'s own Massachusetts, in the case of Jackson v. Longscope, 394 Mass. 577 (1985), in which the court found the plaintiff, a convicted rapist/murderer who sued for libel over accusations that he had carnal relations with victims after he killed them, had such a bad reputation that he couldn't be libeled.  Conventional wisdom considers rock star managers generally at least slightly higher on the food chain than necrophiliac killers. The three-judge appellate panel wasn't buying it, so Lufti's defamation claim remains on-track for trial.

"TUOL" appreciates readers' concerns regarding his over-familiarity with Britney Spears' discography.

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