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On Monday, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich decided that famed attorney Mark Geragos must submit to a deposition in the litigation between Kesha Rose Sebert and songwriter-producer Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) and also must hand over a “draft” copy of the original complaint he drew up for Kesha.
Geragos was representing Kesha back in 2014 when she first lodged a bombshell suit that accused Dr. Luke of sexual abuse. Almost immediately, Dr. Luke filed his own lawsuit that claimed Kesha had orchestrated a smear campaign and was attempting to extort him in order to escape her contracts.
After Kesha suffered a series of legal setbacks including being denied an injunction and dismissal of her claims, Kesha’s legal representation was handed off to a team at O’Melveny & Myers led by Daniel Petrocelli. Both sides have recently filed amended claims.
Meanwhile, Dr. Luke’s attorneys have been aggressively pursuing discovery about the alleged smear campaign, looking to question everyone from the individual allegedly behind #FreeKesha protests to Geragos.
Geragos attempted to quash the subpoena for testimony and documents by arguing it was all shielded by attorney-client privilege. In court papers, his firm told the judge that Dr. Luke was on a “fishing expedition” and aimed to “harass” him.
In opposition, Dr. Luke’s lawyers argued they were seeking “highly relevant” information about the “malicious and vindictive plan to destroy Plaintiffs’ reputation,” also pointing to the way Geragos has used his media celebrity to comment on Dr. Luke’s character.
Kornreich won’t allow Dr. Luke to get everything — the judge rules that document requests for communications between Geragos and his former client are “overbroad” — but among other requests, she is allowing Dr. Luke to score a draft copy of the complaint.
That draft version was shown to Sony months before the filing of the lawsuit. Geragos argued it was part of settlement discussions. In her decision, Kornreich notes that statements made in good faith prior to anticipated litigation are typically subject to privilege, but she continues, “Here, Kesha did not sue Sony in the [California] Action, which was filed by Geragos. Thus, the Court cannot find that Geragos showed the draft complaint to Sony in anticipation of litigation with it or in an effort to settle.”
This development could be important going forward as Dr. Luke aims to prove defamation via statements in that draft complaint and elsewhere.
As for the deposition, Kornreich states that “to the extent that Geragos claims in conclusory fashion that questions to be posed at its deposition will elicit privileged information, it must raise privilege with respect to specific questions.”
Among the broad topics that Geragos is slated to address is dissemination of the draft complaint, efforts to terminate or renegotiate Kesha’s recording and publishing agreements, as well as efforts to exert pressure through protests, petitions and social media campaigns.
If or when Geragos raises objection to the questions he’s getting at deposition, expect Kornreich to again be asked to weigh in.
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