Fame Pictures, Inc
UPDATE: In a four-page response to Lutfi's suit, Spears' attorneys argue that any verbal agreement made between the popster and Lutfi is void because he made "false promises" to get her to agree to the terms under which he would get paid.
"I was hardly shocked that they didn't agree with our position," Lutfi attorney Bryan Freedman tells E! News. "But I think there is ample evidence of this contract. There are writings that indicate the same. At the end of the day there won't be much dispute about this issue."
While Britney Spears is busy with her Circus act on the road, a couple of her former clowns are starring in their own shows back in Los Angeles.
Spears' ex-manager Sam Lutfi and former boyfriend Adnan Ghalib appeared this morning in separate hearings. Both men have already been banned from further contact with their former meal ticket through 2012.
Now the courts are sorting through the fallout.
Lutfi fared considerably better than Ghalib, as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge today set a trial date of March 8, 2010, for the former manager's lawsuit claiming defamation and unpaid fees against Spears and her parents.
Lawyers for both Lutfi and Jamie and Lynne Spears say they will spend the next 10 months attempting to resolve the case outside of court, with the help of a private mediator.
But in case that doesn't work out, the Spearses already have a game plan.
An attorney for Jamie Spears said that a countersuit may be filed against Lutfi. Lynne Spears' attorney, meanwhile, said that he will likely seek to dismiss the portion of Lutfi's suit that's directed against her, claiming that his allegation of defamation—based on passages from her book, Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World—is actually an infringement on her right to free speech.
Particularly, her right to freely criticize whomever she chooses, especially when they play as large a part as Lutfi appeared to in the downfall of her daughter.
The trial date comes just days after Lutfi filed an appeal against a judge's extension of the restraining order obtained against him by the Spears family.
Ghalib did not appeal his stay-away order—of course, he has more pressing matters to deal with.
The former paparazzo appeared in Van Nuys Superior Court for a preliminary hearing date stemming from his literal run-in with a process server. He walked away with two more restraining orders filed against him.
The Los Angeles district attorney was granted restraining orders on behalf of process server Ram Maskowitz, whom Ghalib (savor the irony) allegedly ran over with his car to avoid being served with the Spearses' restraining order, and, for reasons not yet known, a person named Edam Yemini.
Before the proceedings, Ghalib attorney Peter Korn unsuccessfully attempted to have media removed from the courtroom.
"There's some safety issues for my client," he told Judge Leslie Dunn, who denied his request and set a hearing date for May 18.
By that time, the district attorney is expected to turn over 43 surveillance photos to be used as evidence in the case. The date also gives Korn more time to track down potential witnesses to the incident he claims never occurred.
"Nowhere in the shots do they observe my client running over Mr. Maskowitz," he said.
In February, Ghalib pleaded not guilty to three felony charges stemming from the incident: assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run and battery. Last month, Maskowitz filed a civil suit against Ghalib, saying he suffered cuts, abrasions and a fractured wrist in the incident.
He's seeking unspecified damages for assault, battery, negligence and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
—Additional reporting by Whitney English and Claudia Rosenbaum
(Originally published May 4, 2009, at 11:20 a.m. PT)
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