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Pop star Kesha Rose Sebert and songwriter-producer Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) are still in the heat of battle over her claims that he raped her, and his claims that she’s looking to extradite herself out of a recording deal, but on Wednesday, a New York judge let Kesha’s mother, Pebe Sebert, and her manager Jack Rovner of Vector Management out of one of the lawsuits in the saga.
In October 2014, Dr. Luke and his Kasz Money blamed Pebe and Rovner for cajoling Kesha into repudiating her recording agreements. Additionally, the music producer claimed that Pebe had committed defamation by allegedly orchestrating a public smear campaign accusing him of sexual and drug-related abuse of Kesha.
Today, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich grants Pebe’s motion to dismiss, determining there’s no jurisdiction over Kesha’s mother. The defendant successfully argued that the alleged injury didn’t occur in New York and that she’s not a party to a forum selection clause in Kesha’s recording contracts.
However, the ruling only comes as small relief to Pebe as Dr. Luke has filed a substantially similar lawsuit against her in Tennessee out of caution. The decision only means that she won’t have to litigate on two fronts.
The more significant ruling today concerns the tortious interference claim against Kesha’s manager.
Dr. Luke alleged there was a “long history of animus” between him and Rovner.
“This is due to the fact, among other things, that in numerous conferences regarding Kesha’s career which were attended by Gottwald, Rovner and third parties, Rovner made suggestions regarding creative and business matters which Gottwald rejected,” stated a plaintiff memorandum. “Rovner, who is the former head of a record label and is used to being treated as ‘the boss,’ was enraged by these perceived slights by Gottwald. The fact that third parties witnessed them made Rovner even angrier. This was far more than Rovner’s ego could take; accordingly, Rovner now hates Gottwald.”
Justice Kornreich, however, agreed with Rovner’s attorney that he was acting in the scope of his authority as a manager for the purpose of increasing Kesha’s earnings.
“Although Plaintiffs allege that Rovner hates and is jealous of Gottwald, that is not enough,” writes the judge. “The cases require a showing that the agent acted outside the scope of his authority, in bad faith, and committed an independent tort. Even assuming hatred and jealousy amount to bad faith, they are not torts.”
This determination that there needs to be an independent tort could make tortious interference claims against entertainment managers and agents tougher to pursue. Christine Lepera, attorney for Dr. Luke, says she’s examining the possibility of an appeal.
The next decision in the case will deal with Kesha’s attempt to get a preliminary injunction so she can record outside Dr. Luke’s control.
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