Kesha Wins a Big Victory in Her Defamation Case Against Dr. Luke Before the Trial!
A month before the defamation trial between Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald and Kesha Rose Sebert started, New York’s highest court of appeals made it harder for the producer to show that the singer hurt his reputation by saying he raped her in 2014.
Tuesday, the New York Court of Appeals said that Dr. Luke, as a public figure, will have to show that Kesha acted with “actual malice,” which means that she knew her statements were false or made them without caring about the truth. This is a hard standard to meet in defamation cases. An earlier decision said that Dr. Luke is a private person, even though he is famous for working with the biggest names in the industry.
Kesha has been fighting in court for almost ten years to get out of her record deal with Dr. Luke’s Kasz Money. After trying to change the contract terms and failing, the singer sued the producer for raping her when he hired her almost 20 years ago. She wants an injunction to get out of her contracts with Dr. Luke, who is known as one of the most famous producers of the 21st century because he has worked on hits for Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, and Miley Cyrus, among others.
In 2021, a New York appeals court shocked legal experts and worried press defenders when it decided on summary judgment that Dr. Luke wasn’t a public figure. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and news organizations like The Daily Beast, Dow Jones, and New York Public Radio filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting Kesha, saying that Dr. Luke should have to show actual malice as a public figure.
The judge also said the singer falsely stated when she texted Lady Gaga that he had also raped Katy Perry. This was a big win for the producer because private people only need to show carelessness, even though New York’s libel laws will change in 2020.
In reversing the ruling, the court said Dr. Luke is a “limited-person public figure.” Some people are public figures for all purposes. Still, the court found that others “may invite publicity only in a narrow area of interest” and “may fairly be considered public figures only when the alleged defamation is related to the publicity they sought.
” The court said that the director “pushed” himself into the public eye and tried to keep people interested in what he was doing. The decision stated that Dr. Luke kept talking about and promoting his business relationships with young female artists like Kesha to keep getting attention for himself and new talent for his label.
“When Gottwald started this defamation case in 2014, he was, by his own account, a famous music producer who had had a lot of success in a high-profile career,” the order says.
In another win for Kesha, the court said she could file a complaint because New York’s law will change in 2020 to protect free speech from frivolous lawsuits. The anti-SLAPP law lets her get some of her courts costs back.
The singer didn’t win all of the rulings because most of her allegedly defamatory comments aren’t protected by privileges that shield behavior if it’s related to a lawsuit. Twenty of the 25 claims that are in dispute will go to trial.
In a statement, Dr. Luke’s lawyer Christine Lepera said that the court “agreed with Dr. Luke that the vast majority of Ms. Sebert’s statements are rightly the subject of his defamation claim.”
Kesha’s lawyer did not immediately answer a request for comment from the press. The hearing will start in New York state court on July 19.