Kesha Wins Round in Nasty Legal Battle With Dr. Luke (Exclusive)

A judge decides to pause the big-name producer's defamation claim against the pop superstar.
 AP Images

Kesha Rose Sebert's claim of being raped is being put ahead of Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald's claim of being defamed, and Dr. Luke's attorneys are mad enough that on Friday, they filed a notice of appeal.

This all stems from scandalous lawsuits filed last October, which has triggered a procedural fight in three states.

Kesha filed first, detailing in a complaint in California how she got involved with Dr. Luke's music production company in 2005 before allegedly being manipulated, forced to snort drugs, and on one occasion, raped by her producer. She also made bones about how she was allegedly forced to live with onerous contracts that had the effect of denying her "any meaningful profit from her work due to Dr. Luke's exploitation of her over the last decade."

Within hours, Dr. Luke lodged his own complaint in New York, presenting Kesha's allegations as part of a preemptive attempt to repudiate a longstanding record deal. The lawsuit also targeted Kesha's mother, Pebe Sebert, and her reps at Vector Management. Later, Dr. Luke brought a similar lawsuit in a Tennessee court too.

Since the filings, the judges in the case have had to figure out who is going first. With an overcrowded court docket, judges are always leery of expending resources if there's a pending dispute in another jurisdiction that has the potential of resolving, or at least, coloring a legal action.

Earlier this month, New York Supreme Court justice Shirley Werner Kornreich decided that the California case should move first. In ordering that Dr. Luke's defamation action be stayed, she said that both lawsuits "present similar claims with the possibility of inconsistent judgments, and the California case alleges specific California statutory claims."

She also pointed out that Kesha and Dr. Luke both reside there, and that the alleged torts (the claimed sexual abuse, among other things) took place in California.

This arguably gives Kesha a tactical advantage, and Dr. Luke's side isn't happy because they see the overall controversy as primarily one over contracts — deals that designate New York as the forum to adjudicate any dispute. For this reason, they've been pressing the California judge to delay Kesha's lawsuit in favor of their own.

Now, in a bid to appeal, Dr. Luke's side argues that the New York judge "lacked discretion to effectively re-write the parties' contracts," to pause a dispute that involves parties who aren't involved in the California lawsuit, and to hold off on adjudicating his claims of defamation and breach of contract. In short, Dr. Luke is unhappy at the loss of controlling the place and nature of the battle.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner

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