The decision, issued Thursday, finds that a new 2020 law designed to curb litigation from wealthy plaintiffs trying to intimidate critics cannot apply retroactively to Dr. Luke’s lawsuit against the “Tik Tok” singer. That means even if Kesha prevails in the long-running case, she can’t make Dr. Luke cover her presumably expensive legal defense bills.
The court ruled that “contrary” to other non-biding decisions, including one involving Sarah Palin’s recent loss against the New York Times, “there is insufficient evidence supporting the conclusion that the legislature intended its 2020 amendments to the anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP) law… to apply retroactively to pending claims such as the defamation claims asserted by plaintiffs in this action.”
Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald, sued Kesha in New York in October 2014, the same day she filed a dueling lawsuit against him in Los Angeles. Her complaint alleged the music producer knocked her out with “sober pills” and raped her during nearly a decade of alleged sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.
His lawsuit alleged Kesha, born Kesha Rose Sebert, defamed him amid an attempt to extort a better contract. Kesha transferred her claims to New York, where they were dismissed largely on the grounds they were simply too old. Gottwald’s suit survived.
Gottwald’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone.
“Today’s opinion is manifestly erroneous and contrary to the conclusion reached by approximately 20 other courts. We will promptly seek Court of Appeals review,” Kesha’s lawyers at the firm O’Melveny said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
“When you’re not allowed to say anything and there are no words anyways,” the musician wrote in a cryptic Instagram post after the ruling. She included a pensive, black and white selfie portrait shot in a room with a microphone and speaker in the background.
In February 2020, a New York judge ruled that Kesha defamed Gottwald when she told Lady Gaga that he raped the singer Katy Perry. The remainder of Gottwald’s case is proceeding to trial.