Britney Spears' Lawyer Wrote a Cease and Desist Letter to Jamie Lynn Over "Misleading and Outrageous Claims" Made in New Memoir

An entertainment lawyer weighs in on the move.

2017 Radio Disney Music Awards
(Image credit: Getty)

Things are going downhill between Britney Spears and her sister Jamie Lynn. Ahead of the younger Spears sister's memoir release on Jan. 18, the Zoey 101 actress has given several interviews in which she referenced the singer—not always painting her in the best light.

Britney addressed her sister in an open letter shared on Twitter, and Jamie Lynn is reportedly skipping the book tour.

But that's not satisfactory for Britney and her lawyer Mathew Rosengart. The latter penned a cease and desist letter addressed to Jamie Lynn, which was obtained by E! News.

"We write with some hesitation because the last thing Britney wants is to bring more attention to your ill-timed book and its misleading or outrageous claims about her," the letter reads. "Although Britney has not read and does not intend to read your book, she and millions of her fans were shocked to see how you have exploited her for monetary gain. She will not tolerate it, nor should she."

Rosengart continued, "You of all people know the abuse and wrongdoing Britney had to endure during the conservatorship, after initially growing up with a 'ruinous,' alcoholic father. In fact, your own book reportedly states that your father 'spent most of my life in that cycle of ruinous behavior. His bouts of drinking caused me periods of torment and sorrow.'"

Getting to the heart of the matter, the letter then reads, "Publicly airing false or fantastical grievances is wrong, especially when designed to sell books. It is also potentially unlawful and defamatory."

As for the intention of the letter, it is stated in the following words—in response to Jamie Lynn's previous insistence that the book isn't about Britney: "She takes you at your word and we, therefore, demand that you cease and desist from referencing Britney derogatorily during your promotional campaign. If you fail to do so or defame her, Britney will be forced to consider and take all appropriate legal action."

Although behavior that prompts one sister to threaten to sue the other doesn't exactly demonstrate the ideal family relationship, entertainment lawyer Mitra Ahouraian thinks that Britney and her legal representative could have gone a lot harder if they wanted to (thus implying that they likely didn't want to).

"Mathew Rosengart’s letter reads more like a plea than a threat," Ahouraian tells Marie Claire.

"It says that Jamie Lynn Spears' decision to publicly air her grievances is 'wrong,' which is more of a moral argument than a legal one. And it has all these qualifiers that soften the language, saying that Jamie Lynn Spears’ statements have been potentially unlawful and defamatory and that Britney may be forced to consider taking legal action, as opposed to stating unequivocally that the statements have been defamatory or laying down the gauntlet and outright threatening legal action."

Besides simple family loyalty, one reason the star may not want to actually sue Jamie Lynn is that it wouldn't be an easy case.

"Britney Spears is in a tough position because, as a public figure, the bar is very high for her to prove defamation in court," Ahouraian explains. "For a private individual to be found guilty of defamation, their statement simply has to be untrue to be defamatory. But for Britney, a celebrity, to establish that Jamie Lynn defamed her, she would have to prove Jamie Lynn made those statements with actual malice—which means knowing they are false, or with reckless disregard for whether it's true or not.

"Here you have Britney suggesting, through her lawyer, that Jamie Lynn's statements are false. If they prove to be false, her lawyer has established, through this letter, that Jamie Lynn either knew this or disregarded the possibility of the statements being false and that she continued to make these statements. The letter would help to establish that malicious intent required for a celebrity to bring a claim of defamation. But it’s just a first step. Britney Spears and her legal team would still face the hurdle of establishing that Jamie Lynn’s statements were not true."

Ahouraian adds that the optics of the letter matter with regards to Britney's fans.

"This letter is meant to resonate with the public," she says. "It gives Britney Spears another way to counter stories about her that hurt her public image. Rosengart has provided a statement that he knows will be widely quoted in the media and that is more eloquent than what Britney has so far posted on Twitter and Instagram."

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.