New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich has just given Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) and Sony Music a huge legal victory by dismissing all but one of Kesha Rose Sebert’s counterclaims against the producer.
Following up on her decision to deny an injunction, the judge examines Kesha’s allegations accusing Dr. Luke of drugging and raping her a decade ago and committing ongoing abuse and determines that some of her discrimination claims fail because of lack of jurisdiction and other claims just don’t make the elements.
On Kesha’s assertion that Dr. Luke has violated New York statutes commonly referred to as “hate crime” laws, Kornreich says the facts as pled don’t add up to the allegation that Dr. Luke harbored animus towards women.
“Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime,” she writes.
Kornreich also rules that such a claim can’t be predicated on all of the abusive remarks and threats made over a 10-year period — that there needs to be physical violence or property damage. The only allegation that fits is Dr. Luke’s alleged assault of Kesha on an airplane and rape in a hotel before 2008, but that’s past a statute of limitations that runs no longer than five years. “The claim is time-barred,” states the judge’s opinion.
As for a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, the judge writes that “insults about her value as an artist, her looks and her weight are insufficient to constitute extreme, outrageous conduct intolerable in civilized society.”
Kesha was hoping for a declaratory judgment that her recording and songwriting agreements with Dr. Luke’s companies were void and unenforceable, and while there’s one counterclaim that survives as to whether her agreement terminated when she was sued for breach of contract, she can’t use Dr. Luke’s decision to sue for damages instead of performance as an out. “Courts generally will not enforce a contract for personal services because slavery has been outlawed since the 19th century,” notes the judge.
Maybe most disastrous for Kesha, the judge is dismissing the claims without an opportunity to amend her complaint. She recently added a star attorney to her team and has filed an appeal over the judge’s conclusion that after Dr. Luke and Sony spent $20 million to build up Kesha’s career, it was commercially unreasonable to rip up contracts. Unfortunately for her, there’s little good news for the pop superstar from the decision today. At best, the judge’s latest decision that her court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear discrimination claims — because the acts didn’t occur in New York — may prompt a return of Kesha’s California lawsuit, which was paused because of a forum clause in the contract between the warring parties.
Update: There’s a lot of misleading information about today’s ruling, so as a public service, here’s a copy of the actual opinion: