Kesha Loses in Appeal of Dr. Luke Defamation Ruling
UPDATE (4/22/21): A New York appeals court has upheld the February 2020 summary judgment that ruled Dr. Luke is not a public figure, as The Hollywood Reporter reports. Following the original ruling, Kesha’s legal team said they would file an appeal, which was denied on Thursday when the appeals court affirmed the New York Supreme Court’s determination.
Original story published February 6, 2020
A judge has ruled in favor of Lukasz Gottwald, the music producer also known as Dr. Luke, in his defamation dispute with Kesha. The pair have been embroiled in a back-and-forth legal battle for six years.
In 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit accusing Gottwald of sexual assault and emotional abuse. In turn Gottwald sued Kesha for defamation and breach of contract, claiming the singer falsely accused him of rape in an effort to nullify her recording contract. Kesha alleged Gottwald had drugged and raped her and alleged in a text message with Lady Gaga that Gotttwald had also raped Katy Perry. Perry later denied the allegation in court.
On Thursday, New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer G. Schecter ruled that Kesha had defamed Gottwald in the text message to Lady Gaga, citing Perry’s denial and that there was no supporting evidence for the claim. The judge also rejected Kesha’s legal team’s defense assertions that Gottwald is a “public figure.”
“Though Gottwald has sought publicity for his label, his music, and his artists — none of which are the subject of the defamation here — he never injected himself into the public debate about sexual assault or abuse of artists in the entertainment industry,” the judge wrote per Variety. “The only reason Gottwald has any public connection to the issues raised in this lawsuit is because they were raised in this lawsuit.”
The judge also ordered Kesha to pay $374,000 in interest on back royalty payments to Gottwald’s company in breach of her contract. While the ruling appears to be a setback for the pop star’s claims, the judge clarified that Thursday’s ruling was not a declaration on whether or not Gottwald raped Kesha — that aspect would be left to a jury.
“Kesha abandoned her meritless case against Dr. Luke more than three years ago,” Christine Lepera, Gottwald’s lawyer, said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “The only remaining lawsuit is Dr. Luke’s case against Kesha for defamation and breach of contract. Dr. Luke is pursuing this lawsuit to seek recovery for the serious harm Kesha’s false accusations of rape have caused Dr. Luke, his family and his business.
“Today’s important decision by the Court in Dr. Luke’s lawsuit brings him closer to the justice that he seeks. First, the Court has now ruled that Kesha made a false and defamatory accusation about Dr. Luke when she baselessly claimed that he raped Katy Perry. Second, the Court rejected Kesha’s attempts to invoke legal technicalities to avoid responsibility for her statements.,” Lepera continued. “And third, the Court also correctly held that Kesha breached her contract with Dr. Luke’s company.
“Dr. Luke looks forward to the trial of his case where he will prove that Kesha’s other false statements about him were equally false and defamatory,” she concluded.
“Judge Schecter issued rulings today on motions for summary judgement in the Dr. Luke litigation,” Kesha’s legal team said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “We disagree with the Court’s rulings. We plan to immediately appeal.”