Britney Spears. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
Britney Spears was not in a Los Angeles court Thursday, but her parents were.
They watched and listened as opening statements were made by the attorney for Sam Lufti, the pop star's former manager, who is suing Spears and her parents for breach of contract.
The big accusation from Lutfi's camp: Attorney Joseph Schleimer told the court that Spears used his client as a "scapegoat" to cover up her use of amphetamines, including speed, reports AP. The accusations refer to the years that Lufti was Spears' manager, before he was fired from her team in 2008.
Schleimer's opening statements included showing photos of Spears with a shaved head and hitting an SUV with an umbrella. He said one of Lutfi's first actions after being hired as manager was having drug-sniffing dogs search the singer's hilltop home.
"She liked to use amphetamines-speed or uppers," said Schleimer, according to E! News. "She liked to take that drug. And most of the things that went wrong were related to that drug."
Lufti is suing the star's mother, Lynne Spears, for defaming him in her book Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World. He is also suing Jamie Spears, the singer's father, for punching him. And he is seeking a share of Britney's fortune, saying he had an agreement to act as her manager in exchange for 15 percent of her earnings.
Schleimer described Lufti as a "concerned friend" who was trying to get the popstar off drugs before the psychiatric episode in 2008. Schleimer told the jury that the day of Spears' breakdown, January 28, 2008, Spears had an amphetamine prescription filled and took six to eight pills early in the day, reports TMZ.
Spears was hospitalized and her father then became conservator of her estate; a restraining order was issued against Lufti. Jamie and Lynne Spears say Lufti cut their daughter's phone line, hid her mobile phones and used the paparazzi as "henchmen."
The case is the culmination of years of fighting 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.
The trial resumes today, reports AP, when attorneys for Spears' parents will make their opening statements.