Britney Spears has wanted to oust her dad from his role at the helm of her conservatorship for years. On Monday, she made a bold legal move that could finally turn that dream into a reality.
The pop star’s new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court to remove Jamie Spears as the conservator of Britney’s estate. (Jamie has held that position, which allows him to control how every cent of Britney’s roughly $60 million fortune is spent, for about 13 years.) Rosengart called on Jamie to either voluntarily step down as a conservator or leave the petition unopposed, which would clear the way for the judge in Britney’s case to quickly replace him. But Jamie has signaled that he won’t walk away from his daughter’s conservatorship without a fight. If he contests the petition, Rosengart has asked the court to forcibly remove Jamie as Britney’s conservator and replace him with an independent, professional fiduciary, Jason Rubin.
While removing Jamie from the conservatorship would be a win for Britney in and of itself, it could also be a big step towards terminating the conservatorship altogether. If Rosengart can take Jamie, who appears intent on maintaining the conservatorship, out of the equation, he might have an easier time eliminating it—something he’s intent on doing later on, but isn’t pursuing just this moment.
“There might well come a time when the Court will be called upon to consider whether the conservatorship should be terminated in its entirety,” Rosengart wrote in Monday’s petition. “This Petition does not ask the Court to address such issues today.”
The petition is a bombshell, and not just because of what it’s calling for. It sheds new light on how Jamie has ruled over his daughter’s life since 2008, and details previously undisclosed mental, physical, and financial abuses he has allegedly inflicted on her.
The complete petition, which includes declarations of support from Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, and her conservator of the person, Jodi Montgomery, runs a little over 120 pages long. VICE combed through it and pulled out the most damning revelations it contains below.
Jamie allegedly encouraged a doctor to give Britney lithium and force her into a medical facility against her will.
In a searing speech Britney made in court on June 23, she claimed that after she objected to a particular piece of choreography for her Vegas residency, then voiced a desire to abandon the residency altogether, she was punished. In what she described as an act of retribution, her psychiatrist had her begin taking lithium; shortly thereafter, she was sent to a rehab program against her will, she said. Britney’s testimony left it unclear exactly who orchestrated those two things—but Monday’s petition laid the blame squarely on Jamie.
In her declaration of support for Monday’s petition, Lynne Spears wrote that around the time of the Vegas incident, Jamie had personally hired a “sports enhancement doctor” for Britney. It was that doctor who, under Jamie’s direction, put Britney on lithium—despite the fact that Britney “did not want to take it,” and that Lynne and “many others” thought giving Britney lithium was “entirely inappropriate,” Lynne wrote.
“I witnessed my daughter be compelled by that doctor, with the knowledge and encouragement of Mr. Spears, to enter a health facility that she did not want to enter, where she was threatened with punishment if she did not stay for medical treatment that she did not want to endure,” Lynne wrote.
In Monday’s petition, Rosengart drew on Lynne’s testimony to echo an allegation Britney has now made repeatedly: that Jamie wielded his power over his daughter as her conservator to punish her for disobeying him, using medication and hospital stays as a kind of bludgeon.
“The message Ms. Spears received from her father was clear,” Rosengart wrote. “She had no say; she had no control or autonomy; and she had to do as she was told or else she would, once again, be deemed ‘uncooperative’ and be further medicated against her wishes.”
Jamie allegedly enlisted members of Britney’s inner circle to spy on her.
In her declaration of support, Lynne went on to describe how Jamie exercises “absolutely microscopic control” over Britney’s life. He maintains that control, Lynne claimed, by tapping those closest to Britney to serve as de facto spies, who keep him updated on Britney’s every move.
“Mr. Spears has relied on members of the conservatee’s household staff, medical aides on site at the conservatee’s home, and her own security detail to inform on and report back to him each and every detail of every action that takes place in the conservatee’s home and her life,” Lynne wrote. “Such scrutiny is exhausting and terrifying, like living in custody.”
Jamie and Britney’s relationship has been bad for a while. An altercation Jamie had with his grandson “destroyed” it.
Lynne also wrote that Britney’s feelings towards her father have “dwindled to nothing but fear and hatred” at this point, due to his “complete control over her, his mistrust of her, his coercion of her, his ‘bartering’ with her over what she can and cannot do for whatever reward or punishment he is willing to mete out, his constant threats, and his decision-making over all aspects of her life.” Lynne added that their relationship hit rock bottom in 2019, when Jamie reportedly broke down a locked door and “violently shook” his then 13-year-old grandson, Sean Spears.
“Of the actions that solidified the failure of my daughter’s and Mr. Spears’ relationship, the physical altercation between Mr. Spears and the conservatee’s minor children, my grandchildren, was perhaps the most appalling and inexcusable, and understandably destroyed whatever was left of a relationship between them,” Lynne wrote.
Jamie has made millions off of Britney’s career—but Rosengart says he was never entitled to it.
On top of a $16,000 monthly stipend and an extra $2,000 per month for “office expenses,” Jamie has been taking cuts of the earnings from Britney’s tours and residencies for years. He reportedly took a 1.5 percent cut of the gross revenues from Britney’s multi-year residency in Vegas, which netted $137.7 million in box office sales alone—leaving Jamie with an estimated payout of $2.1 million, the petition states. He also took home 2.95 percent of the gross revenues from Britney’s 2011 “Femme Fatale” tour, earning an estimated $500,000, the petition states. But Rosengart argues that Jamie wasn’t entitled to any of that money.
“Although it is common for managers, agents, and other industry professionals to receive a percentage of an artists’ earnings, Mr. Spears is none of those,” Rosengart writes. “He is a conservator and, as a conservator, his role is to be burdened by, rather than benefit from, the conservatorship.”
Britney has had “no control” over the contracts signed on her behalf, the petition claims.
Since 2011, Britney has released four albums and played more than 450 shows, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue along the way. But she never had a say in which deals she participated in or how they were structured, the petition claims.
“Perversely, all this time, while working, performing extremely well, hard, and meticulously—and earning substantial revenues for others—Ms. Spears has had no control over what contracts were signed on her behalf and what those contracts would commit her to do or perform,” Rosengart writes. “Worse, all the above was without regard for whether she (the talent, the breadwinner, and the star) wanted to perform at all.”
Rosengart threatened to pursue a separate case against Jamie.
In a court hearing on July 14, Britney vowed that she would take legal action against her father, saying that she wanted him investigated for conservatorship abuse. In Monday’s petition, Rosengart threw his weight behind that threat.
“Serious questions abound concerning Mr. Spears’s potential misconduct, including conflicts of interest, conservatorship abuse, and the evident dissipation of Ms. Spears’s fortune, which Mr. Spears has effectively controlled since 2008,” Rosengart wrote.
Rosengart cited a Forbes article that described Britney’s net worth as “shockingly low” compared to her pop-star counterparts. He blamed that on Jamie—stopping just short of accusing Jamie flat-out of swindling his daughter out of her money.
“There might well come a time when the Court will be called upon to consider… whether—in addition to stripping his daughter of her dignity, autonomy, and certain fundamental liberties—Mr. Spears is also guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance warranting the imposition of surcharges, damages, or other legal action against him,” Rosengart wrote.
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