Britney Spears's Former Manager: 'I Didn't Want to Sue'

11/03/2007 at 06:00 AM EDT

Britney Spears's Former Manager: 'I Didn't Want to Sue'
Britney Spears
Cousart-Ramirez-Rios/JFX
Britney Spears' former manager, Johnny Wright, says he is "disappointed" that their business relationship has had to end up in court.

"I didn't want to sue Britney," Wright, who managed Spears's career from 1999 to 2003, tells PEOPLE. "But she didn't leave me much choice."

Spears's camp has not commented on the suit, which was filed Monday in Orlando and seeks damages in excess of $15,000.

Wright, who has also represented Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, is credited with turning Spears, now 25, from a teenaged Mouseketeer into a household name.

"I have worked with Britney in some capacity since she was 15," he says. "She was always focused. She was good at what she did and a very hard worker."

Magic Moments Together

Despite taking legal action against her, Wright says he misses working with Britney. "Those were magic moments. We did some tremendous things together," he says. "So it's disappointing to see how things have turned out."

Wright says that he tried to help Spears as her behavior became increasingly erratic. "I've reached out to the people around her, because I want to sit down with her and help in any way that I can," he says. "But I don't know if my messages don't get to her, or if she just doesn't want to deal with me."

Claims for Fees Owed Through 2008

Wright’s lawsuit claims that Spears is obligated to pay him through 2008 for deals that he negotiated as her manager. His attorney, Clay M. Townsend, tells PEOPLE that payments that did arrive became sporadic and often came with no support documentation.

"Wright Entertainment received payments until December 2006," says Townsend. "but we have no way of knowing how accurate they were, because we don't have an accounting of what they were for. We're asking for an accounting, so we can figure this out."

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