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Kesha Says Dr. Luke Has ‘Obstructed’ Defamation Case, Wants to ‘Get This Ordeal Behind Her’

As a February trial date looks less and less likely, each side is blaming the other for delays.

Kesha told a New York judge Tuesday (Aug. 30) that Dr. Luke is at fault for delays that are threatening to derail their scheduled defamation trial in February, saying she wants to “get this ordeal behind her and move on with her life.”

The singer said she’s “more than eager” to get to the February showdown and finally end a legal battle that’s been raging since 2014, but that Dr. Luke has delayed two key appeals that must be decided before the case heads to trial.

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“Kesha has … done everything in her power to try to ensure that trial will begin as scheduled, including by seeking to expedite proceedings in the Court of Appeals,” her lawyer Leah Godesky wrote in a letter to Judge Jennifer G. Schecter. “Dr. Luke has obstructed her efforts at every turn.”

“Kesha has an overwhelming interest in having the trial proceed as scheduled,” Godesky added, “not only so that she can seek vindication but also so that she can get this ordeal behind her and move on with her life.”

In a statement to Billboard later on Tuesday, attorneys for Dr. Luke sharply refuted Kesha’s allegations about the delays, saying their client was “ready and willing” for trial and “looks forward to winning.”

“It is Kesha’s attorneys who have delayed the case for years by endlessly filing meritless appeals, which they have lost time and again,” said Christine Lepera and Jeffrey Movit. “If the case is not tried in February, it solely will be due to the fact that Kesha’s lawyers decided yet again to take more appeals.”

Dr. Luke, whose full name is Lukasz Gottwald, filed his lawsuit against Kesha in 2014, claiming she had legally defamed him with a “false and shocking” allegation that he drugged and raped her after a 2005 party. He claimed she did so as leverage to secure a more lucrative deal.

After nearly eight years of litigation, a trial on those accusations is scheduled to finally start on Feb. 20. But it’s unclear if those proceedings can take place until New York’s highest appeals court rules on two key issues that will play a central role in the case.

The first is whether Dr. Luke is a so-called public figure – a crucial distinction in a defamation case because the First Amendment makes it much harder for such figures to win a lawsuit. The second issue is whether New York’s newly-enacted “anti-SLAPP” law applies retroactively to the case; the statute, designed to protect free speech against bad lawsuits, would also make it far harder for Dr. Luke to win.

After lower courts sided with Dr. Luke on both issues, Kesha is now asking the New York Court of Appeals to reverse the rulings. The cases are pending, but it’s unclear when the court will rule.

Earlier this month, attorneys for Dr. Luke told Judge Schecter that it appeared “unlikely” the appeals court would issue its rulings by February, but that they were “ready and willing to proceed with trial” regardless.

That suggestion prompted Tuesday’s fiery response from Kesha’s team, which said the case absolutely cannot head to trial without final rulings by the high court: “It would be a monumental waste of party and judicial resources to proceed to trial when there is a very real risk that a new trial immediately would be required.”

According to the new filing, Kesha’s team has been trying to expedite the appeals but has been stymied by Dr. Luke’s attorneys, who say they have scheduling conflicts. She says if the trial is delayed, it will be because of those conflicts – and that she has no motive to delay things intentionally.

“Kesha is an individual defendant who has been subject to (what she will show at trial to be) a retaliatory litigation for nearly a decade,” Godesky’s letter continued. “The litigation was filed in fall 2014, has cost her tremendous amounts of time and money, and has required her to sit for deposition and produce documents about the most intimate details in her life.”

Read the full letter from Kesha’s attorneys here: