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Joan Rivers -- Under Attack in Nasty Lawsuit

6/23/2010 6:07 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Joan Rivers is being sued by a bitter ex-manager -- who claims he was never compensated for resurrecting Joan's "dormant career" ... but it's clear this lawsuit is as much about hurt feelings as lost money. 

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The guy going after Rivers is Billy Sammeth -- Joan's longtime "personal manager" -- who claims he "took [Joan's] dormant career" ... and found a way to get her more work and more money ... only to be stiffed out of $179k and humiliated in a recent documentary about Joan's life.

In the docs, Sammeth claims he never got his 10% cut from several paydays Joan received -- including a $200,000 check Joan received from winning "Celebrity Apprentice."

Sammeth also claims Joan and the people behind the documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" -- defamed him by making him appear to be a "disappeared" manager.

Sammeth is suing both Joan and the production company for at least $2.2 million. 

UPDATE: A rep for Joan tells us the comedian is, "confident that the judicial system will dispose of Mr. Sammeth's lawsuit in the appropriate manner."

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