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Kesha and Dr Luke both call for summary judgements in ongoing defamation case

By | Published on Monday 3 December 2018


Lawyers representing Kesha and Dr Luke have both submitted new papers seeking partial summary judgement in their respective client’s favour in the producer’s ongoing defamation case against the singer. Both sides make a number of requests of the judge, relating to things they’d ideally like resolved before the case eventually reaches trial.

The key demand on Kesha’s side is that Dr Luke be considered a ‘public figure’, which would place a higher burden on him to prove his defamation claim under the relevant laws. They also request that a number of the allegedly defamatory statements being put forward by the producer be barred from being brought up at trial. That request cites different reasons for different statements, including that some comments are protected under New York law, and that others are a mere statement of opinion that cannot be considered defamation.

On Dr Luke’s side, his lawyers want a ruling that Kesha be held liable for statements made by her one time legal rep Mark Geragos, her mother Pebe Sebert and others. It is argued that these statements were made on behalf of the singer and should therefore be considered her responsibility. Luke’s team also seek confirmation that statements put forward in the case are not protected speech.

In addition to the defamation arguments, a large portion of Dr Luke’s submission calls for a court ruling on the status of Kesha’s various deals with the producer’s companies. In particular, it calls for the court to order Kesha to hand over royalties from her ‘Rainbow’ album.

That album was released after the judge overseeing the Kesha/Luke legal battle ruled that she should be allowed to record for Dr Luke’s then business partner Sony Music without the producer’s direct involvement, despite her existing agreements with him. She now argues that her agreement with Luke regarding her recordings is terminated and therefore no royalties are due to him. He counters that while he may not have had direct involvement in the new record, it is still covered by their past agreements.

Along with these new submissions come thousands of pages of evidence from both sides, firming up the arguments they plan to make in court. Much of this evidence relates to claims and counterclaims that have featured in various press statements from both sides over the last year.

At the heart of the dispute, of course, is Kesha’s key allegation that she was drugged and raped by the producer. He says that this is a fabrication, invented to try to force his hand in contract renegotiations. His lawyers have submitted emails and other documents which they say show that Kesha’s management, PR reps and others devised a plan to destroy Luke’s career through a malicious media campaign.

A key piece of that evidence is a text message from Kesha to Lady Gaga, in which she claimed that Katy Perry had been raped by Dr Luke. Perry later denied this in a deposition. More of that text conversation has now been published, causing Lady Gaga to issue a statement of her own, after she was shown to have called Perry “mean” and to have offered to try to convince her to speak up in favour of Kesha.

Gaga tweeted on Friday: “Katy Perry and I have grown up in the industry together. We’ve gone through both celebrations and differences with each other. These are old texts. We’ve matured, gotten over the past, love each other and share deep respect. Katy is my friend and is truly a kind soul. End of story”.

A spokesperson for Gaga also told Variety: “These text messages paint a picture of one friend trying to help another through an extraordinary difficult time. They are several years old and in no way reflect Lady Gaga’s relationship with Katy Perry. These are private texts that – along with personal information from other high-profile individuals – have been publicly filed to generate media attention for this case”.

It is still not clear when this case will actually reach trial, but these latest filings are a big step towards getting there.