Yet another decision falls in Dr. Luke’s favour

Kesha cannot catch a legal break in her ongoing battle with Dr. Luke.

A panel of judges in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Tuesday ruled the singer cannot pursue a countersuit against Lukasz Gottwald. Kesha has been trying to get out of her contract with Dr. Luke since 2014, when she claimed he raped and drugged her as they worked on an earlier album together.

Dr. Luke signed Kesha to his Kemosabe label, an imprint of Sony, in 2005, when she was 18 and he was one of the biggest producers in the industry.

This latest setback – and there have been very few advances for the singer – was in response to a lawsuit Dr. Luke filed in October 2016, accusing Kesha of defamation and breach of contract. He argues that her claims of abuse are retaliation, fabricated out of a desire to nullify their contract so she could either renegotiate or move to a different label.

“Kesha’s proposed amendments are palpably insufficient and devoid of merit” to allow her case to continue forward, the judges wrote in their single-page decision Tuesday. “Her counterclaim seeking declaratory relief terminating the agreements on the grounds of impossibility and impracticability of performance was speculative, contradicted by her own allegations that she had continued performing under the agreements and, as to at least one of the agreements, the impossibility was not produced by an unanticipated event that could not have been foreseen or guarded against.”

Bottom line: Kesha could, and did, still record and release an album, even while under this contract, without working with Dr. Luke. Therefore he’s not preventing her from working and, as a result, she doesn’t meet a legal threshold to have her contract nullified.

Dr. Luke’s lawyer, Christine Lepera, told the New York Times her client is satisfied with the decision. “Kesha’s false accusations have caused tremendous damage to Dr. Luke, his family and his business. Luke is proceeding with his defamation case in order to address these matters through the courts.”

So far, Kesha’s camp isn’t speaking. Next stop appears to be trial – for Dr. Luke’s case against Kesha, in which he’ll try to prove she defamed him.

Already Kesha has dropped all accusations against Dr. Luke in California, turning instead to New York courts in 2017. She claimed, in the New York case, that she was owed back royalties for work with Dr. Luke and his companies Prescription and KMI; the same judge that last year ruled she couldn’t pursue a counterclaim ruled against her on this plea as well.

The same judge who told Kesha, in 2016, that her “instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing” and keep the contract in place, rather that “decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry.”

That same judge will likely preside over the defamation case as it moves forward.


Amber Healy

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

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