Lawyer tells jurors about Britney Spears' struggle
By Linda Deutsch, AP Sunday, October 21, 2012, 12:01 am TWN
LOS ANGELES--A lawyer for Britney Spears' father told jurors Friday that the singer's family went to heroic efforts to save her during a well-chronicled public meltdown that included shaving her head and other bizarre behavior.
Spears' father, Jamie, went to great lengths, attorney Leon Gladstone said during opening statements in the trial over a lawsuit Spears' former manager has brought against Spears and her parents.
Sam Lutfi is seeking millions of dollars from Spears and her family, claiming a book her mother wrote lied about him drugging and isolating the pop superstar. He is also seeking a portion of Spears' profits from her recording career, claiming he was a key player in her 2007 album "Blackout" and had the right to serve as her manager for years.
The case is the culmination of years of acrimony between Lutfi and Spears' family and conservators, who successfully obtained a restraining order against him to keep him from contacting the singer or trying to intervene in her life.
Gladstone told jurors that Spears' life began to spiral out of control after a painful breakup with childhood sweetheart Justin Timberlake. He said Jamie Spears worked tirelessly to rescue his daughter from drug addiction, mental illness and the hold that Lutfi had on her during that time.
Gladstone told of Jamie Spears' going to the hospital where his daughter was in a psychiatric ward, staying up with her all night and trying to bring her back to normalcy.
He told of another day when Jamie Spears rushed to a hospital, where he found Britney strapped to a gurney, screaming and yelling. "She is completely unhinged. He stays with her, walking the floor. He is scared out of his mind. He's thinking, 'My daughter has lost everything.'"
The attorney said Jamie Spears expected to turn on the TV one day and learn that his daughter had died.
During this period, Gladstone said, Lutfi was of no help. Jamie Spears confronted Lutfi in the kitchen of Britney's house and told him "leave my daughter alone, get out of our lives."
"And at that point Jamie touched Lutfi. For that, Jamie is being sued for battery," Gladstone said. He said Lutfi was not hurt and was out that night with Britney.
Gladstone added that when Jamie Spears went to court and asked for conservatorship of his daughter, it was immediately granted and remains in effect.
During his opening statement on Thursday, Lutfi's lawyer said his client never took advantage of Spears. Lutfi was trying to help Spears, attorney Joseph Schleimer told jurors, but he lost control as her behavior became more troublesome and she was eventually hospitalized and put under a court-ordered conservatorship.
The move for a restraining order against Lutfi by Jamie Spears came after months of erratic behavior by his daughter, including shaving her head, speaking in a British accent, attacking a car with an umbrella and other bizarre incidents. She also lost custody of her two sons with ex-husband Kevin Federline during that time.
Jurors aren't expected to hear from Spears during the trial. She remains under the conservatorship, which is overseen by a judge who has ordered her not to appear for trial or a deposition.
She has since made a remarkable comeback and is a judge on the Fox television show "The X-Factor."
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