Since 2008, Britney Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, has been in control of the singer’s business and personal affair as her conservator. Conservatorship is a legal term for someone who is appointed guardian of someone else’s finances, medical care and/or daily life, according to Investopedia. This usually occurs in situations when a person is unable to take care of themselves due to mental illness or old age.
The conservatorship came into place after Britney checked into a mental facility for the second time in 2008. In efforts to gain back custody of her children with ex-husband Kevin Federline, Jamie Spears became the legal guardian of his daughter’s affairs, according to Vulture.
In recent months, fans of the singer have been concerned about her mental state after observing strange photos and videos on Britney’s instagram page. In January of 2019, Britney announced the cancellation of her Las Vegas residency due to the hospitalization of her father and need for family-time. Her activity on social media became less frequent until a post in April set off alarms for fans. A photo was posted to Britney’s instagram that contained the saying, “Fall in love with taking care of yourself, mind, body and spirit” with the caption, “We all need to take time for a little ‘me time.’ :).”
According to Vulture, fans found this post unusual for the singer, noting the choice of emoji was not typical. Then, things got interesting later that day when TMZ reported that Spears had checked into a mental facility for a month long stay, just seven days before the post was made.
The #FreeBritney movement, first created once the conservatorship began, spread like wildfire over social media after news of her mental facility stay.
“The discourse reached a fever pitch on April 16, when the podcast Britney’s Gram, hosted by comedians Tess Barker and Babs Gray, aired a voice mail from an anonymous paralegal who claimed to have worked on Spears’ conservatorship and had left the firm two weeks earlier,” according to Vulture.
The paralegal described Spears’ situation as disturbing during the podcast and explained that her father pulled her from her “Domination” Vegas residency once she began refusing to take her medication. Jamie blamed the cancellation on his own illness, and forced Britney to check into a mental facility against her will since the beginning of the year, according to the anonymous source.
“He also said that she was promised that the conservatorship would come to an end in 2009 after her ‘Circus’ tour but that it didn’t, causing her to have another mental breakdown soon after,” according to Vulture.
This podcast received close to 100,000 listens on Soundcloud but was not the tipping point for Jamies Spears though. A blogger by the name Anthony Elia is now being sued by Jamie Spears for defamation.
Jamie’s legal team filed a complaint claiming that Elia has “been one of the loudest voices in the crowd,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The allegations Elia has made about Spears’ conservatorship in his blogs have been picked up by numerous media outlets like US Weekly and MSN. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Elia described Britney’s situation as “a human rights violation” and has posted several tweets spreading allegations from his blog post that Britney’s team was deleting comments from her Instagram page that were positive so the negative ones would receive more attention.
In a quote published by The Hollywood Reporter, the complaint states, “It is time that Elia understands that his words have consequences and he cannot blindly spout his baseless theories any longer.”
Jamie Spears is suing Elia for defamation and false light invasion of privacy. He is asking the court for actual and punitive damages and an injunction barring Elia from republishing the statements, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
This situation is a little interesting when it comes to defamation claims. Usually, in order for a public figure to sue for defamation, they need to prove actual malice. This means that Jamie would need to prove that Elia made these allegations against his conservatorship with reckless disregard for the truth or knowing the allegations were false. However, the court may not consider Jamie as a public figure considering his daughter is technically the public figure in this situation.
Regardless, it might be hard to prove actual malice since the premise of most of Elia’s blog posts and tweets are written with concern for Britney’s wellbeing. In situations like these, it is hard for public figures to win a defamation case because of the actual malice requirement.
If you are a victim of online harassment, cyberbullying or defamation, get in touch with the experienced attorneys at RM Warner Law. We know how to help.
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