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Kesha Dealt Stunning Blow In Dr. Luke's $50M Defamation Lawsuit

Kesha
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Kesha performs onstage at MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Aerosmith at West Hall at Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 24, 2020 in Los Angeles.

As Dr. Luke’s $50 million defamation case against Kesha moves closer to trial, a New York judge Thursday (Feb. 6) eviscerated Kesha’s remaining defenses. Judge Jennifer Schecter not only narrowed the focus of what could be argued at trial but ruled that Kesha defamed Dr. Luke when she falsely told Lady Gaga that the producer had raped Katy Perry.   

Kesha was also ordered to pay Dr. Luke $373,671.88 in interest for breaching her agreement and failing to pay him $1.3 million royalties due in a timely manner.

Schecter’s ruling also lowered the threshold for Dr. Luke’s attorneys to meet in order to prove their defamation case by ruling that Dr. Luke was not a public figure. The court ruled that while Gottwald might be known in certain music circles that he “has never been a household name or achieved general pervasive fame,” nor had he “ever injected himself into the public debate about sexual assault or abuse of artist in the entertainment community.”  Unlike private individuals, proving a defamation case against a public figure requires a showing that they were communicated with "actual malice” -- that is knowledge of reckless disregard of their falsity.

It will left up to the jury as to whether Kesha accused Gottwald of drugging and raping her in part of her California complaint “in good faith of or as a shame to defame Gottwald and obtain business leverage.”

Schecter also ruled that Kesha should be held responsible for the statements made by her public relations firm Sunshine Sachs and her then-attorney Mark Geragos, if those statements are found actionable at trial. In addition, the court ruled that Kesha’s contract with Dr. Luke was not unconscionable nor had she been fraudulently induced to sign it.

Kesha’s new legal team responded quickly to the judges decision saying, “We disagree with the Court’s rulings. We plan to immediately appeal.”

Dr. Luke’s attorney Christine Lepera said her client is looking forward to the trial where “will prove that Kesha's other false statements about him were equally false and defamatory.’

“Today's important decision by the Court in Dr. Luke's lawsuit brings him closer to the justice that he seeks,” said Lepera in a statement. “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.”

Lepera said her Dr. Luke has been pursuing this defamation case for five and a half years against Kesha “to seek recovery for the serious harm Kesha's false accusations of rape have caused Dr. Luke, his family and his business.”

It will left up to the jury as to whether Kesha accused Gottwald of drugging and raping her in part of her California complaint “in good faith of or as a shame to defame Gottwald and obtain business leverage.”