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Judge rules in Dr Luke’s favour on some elements of his long-running Kesha dispute

By | Published on Friday 7 February 2020


A judge in New York has ruled on some of the side issues in the ongoing legal battle between Kesha and Dr Luke. Both sides were pushing for summary judgements on certain issues. The judge has granted part of Luke’s motion for summary judgement but denied Kesha’s requests.

This legal battle is long-running, multi-layered and quite complicated, having involved multiple lawsuits in multiple American states. Most of those lawsuits have been dismissed, but the defamation action filed by Luke continues.

At the heart of it all is Kesha’s allegation of rape against her long-time producer and collaborator Luke. He denies that allegation, and alleges that she only made that claim in a bid to force his hand in contract negotiations.

This week’s lengthy ruling in relation to the defamation action summarises the full dispute to date, while also considering the extent of Luke’s public profile and Kesha’s liabilities, or not, for comments made by her advisors and supporters, both of which are relevant when pursuing a defamation claim.

The judge is clear that she is not ruling on Kesha’s allegation of rape, but rather other matters linked to the case, in particular a contractual dispute over royalty payments and Kesha’s second allegation that Luke also raped Katy Perry.

The latter claim was made in a text message to Lady Gaga. The judge notes that “there is no evidence whatsoever that [Luke] raped Katy Perry” and, perhaps most importantly, “Perry unequivocally testified that [Luke] did not do so”. And while Kesha made the allegation in a private message to Gaga, “publication of a false statement to even one person is sufficient to impose liability”.

Therefore, the judge concludes: “Kesha made a false statement to Lady Gaga about [Luke] that was defamatory per se”. Meanwhile, on the contractual dispute, Kesha was ordered to pay $374,000, which covers interest on royalty payments that she delayed turning over to Luke’s company in breach of her contract.

The case continues with the judge stating that the main rape allegation needs to be considered by a jury. However, this week’s ruling is an initial win for Luke.

His representatives said in a statement: “Kesha abandoned her meritless case against Dr Luke more than three years ago. 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”, they went on. “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. And third, the court also correctly held that Kesha breached her contract with Dr Luke’s company”.

The statement concluded: “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”.

Kesha’s team is expected to appeal the summary judgement.