Kesha Can Keep Medical Records Private in Suit Against Dr. Luke

Medical records are supposed to be a private thing, known only to a patient and her doctor, outside of extraordinary circumstances.

For Kesha and Dr. Luke, medical records almost became public documents, debated and discussed in front of a jury as part of their nasty, dirty and ongoing legal battles.

In a somewhat appalling move, Dr. Luke—real name Lukasz Gottwald—wanted some 913 pages of “gynecological, psychiatric and rehabilitation” records made public. He and his legal team, according to Buzzfeed and Rolling Stone, among other publications, rationalized that the documents should be included as part of the testimony and legal record in this way:

“Because Kesha made public accusations and in the case that she was allegedly harmed by Dr. Luke, the court ordered her to produce her medical records. Now, Kesha wants to hide her records, while continuing to make self-serving, selective and misleading statements to hurt my clients publicly,” according to Christine Lepera, Dr. Luke’s attorney. “Our position is that the court—and not Kesha’s lawyers—should decide whether Kesha’s medical information remains confidential given her public disclosures. We in fact offered to keep the records confidential pending the court’s decision as to them. Kesha’s attorneys refused that offer, and instead filed their misleading motion for more press attacks on my clients.”

On Friday, Oct. 14, the court sided with Kesha, mandating that her medical records be kept private. This judgment was issued to “insulate her from unnecessary embarrassment and to protect her medical providers from the press and the media.”

This is just the latest struggle in the ongoing—for years now—legal battle between Kesha and Dr. Luke, the producer who signed her when she was still old enough to be in high school, convinced her to move away from home and, according to Kesha, drugged and assaulted her repeatedly. Kesha hasn’t released a new album in four years, despite claims from Dr. Luke, his legal team and Sony that all normal efforts would be expended to help promote her new work, something she and her legal team struggle to believe.

The most recent developments in this case, prior to the court’s ruling on Friday to keep her medical records confidential: Kesha has dropped a sexual assault claim against Dr. Luke in California while keeping the case open in New York, where Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe record label is based. Meanwhile Dr. Luke filed a second libel lawsuit against Kesha’s mother, claiming Pebe Sebert, claiming she continues to defame him as the legal proceedings carry on. Sebert told Billboard in March that Kesha is a “prisoner” to Dr. Luke and reiterated her belief that Kesha was sexually assaulted by the producer.

In libel lawsuit, filed in September, Lepera says Sebert “continued to make outrageous, false and defamatory statements against Dr. Luke in her widespread media campaign to damage him and smear his name. Pebe Sebert’s lawyers flat out refused to allow us to add those statements to the existing case or to toll the statute of limitations on them—so we’ve been compelled to file an additional action,” Rolling Stone reported.

In filing to keep her medical records private, Kesha asked a New York judge for a protective order to maintain confidentiality.

Dr. Luke “has made clear his intent to make the litigation as expensive as possible for the single defendant Ms. Sebert who is currently unable to publish music without Gottwald’s involvement. [His] strategy in the litigation has been to subject Ms. Sebert to extreme embarrassment and harassment going as far as to raise questions in depositions regarding whether Ms. Sebert is ‘sexually aggressive,’’ according to the file.

Kesha is still trying to win the right to cancel her contract with Dr. Luke, Kemosabe and Sony.

It is worth noting that the judge who granted Kesha’s request is New York State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich, the same judge who has ruled against several previous requests from the singer, denying a preliminary injunction that would’ve given Kesha legal permission to work with a different label until this lawsuit is completed and ruled that “there has been no showing of irreparable harm” to Kesha through the course of the legal battle, adding that it doesn’t make sense that Sony would keep Kesha from recording because it would want to “make money on their investment.”

Now Kornreich has ruled for Kesha, saying that the “extraordinary media attention to this action to date, which, among other things, has resulted in threats to the court and demonstrations” led her to grant the “foregoing protective order.”

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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