3:42pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Kesha Wants to Shield Her Talks With PR Firm From Dr. Luke
It's not a topic that comes up often, but the legal battle between Kesha Rose Sebert and Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwalt is exploring the line between legal advice and public relations advice. It's a consequential one, and new court papers even have a Bill O'Reilly cameo.
After being accused of raping Kesha, Dr. Luke continues to hunt for documents to support his defamation claim against the pop star. He is now demanding Kesha's communications with Sunshine Sachs, a powerhouse PR firm that represents a number of stars in the entertainment industry.
According to Dr. Luke's lawyers, "Sebert indeed hired her PR Agents to orchestrate and execute Sebert's intentional press strategy and campaign against Gottwald in order to widely and publicly spread her defamatory statements about him."
New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich has already ruled that Sunshine Sachs must produce certain documents, but Kesha's attorneys are withholding some of them on the basis of attorney-client privilege.
Sunshine Sachs "is an arm of Kesha's legal team no different than a document vendor or economic consultant," argues Kesha's attorneys at O'Melveny in a brief filed Friday. "In New York, attorney-client and work-product privileges apply to communications involving public-relations professionals, if they facilitate legal advice or litigation preparation. Kesha's attorneys needed strategic advice from SS in (i) pursuing a verdict or legal settlement that would allow Kesha to make music without Dr. Luke; (ii) advising Kesha on the risks associated with public statements; and (iii) guiding Kesha's conduct during the litigation."
Dr. Luke's camp is doubtful that privilege applies.
"The Withheld Documents are unlikely to be privileged for two reasons," write his attorneys at Mitchell Silberberg. "First, documents to or from the PR Agents are not privileged as they are obviously intended to facilitate the development of a media strategy, rather than to facilitate legal advice. Second, any otherwise applicable privilege was waived because the documents were shared with the PR Agents."
Kesha's camp responds that Dr. Luke's is "speak[ing] out of both sides of their mouths; Dr. Luke's legal and public relations strategy is inextricably intertwined. He engaged public-relations consultants at Sitrick and has engaged in an aggressive media campaign to discredit Kesha."
One of the examples of the blurring of legal and PR work is this media-savvy reference to a certain ex-Fox News anchor: "On December 23, 2014, and consistent with Bill O'Reilly's recent strategy of releasing Megyn Kelly's old thank-you notes to rebut her sexual-harassment complaints, Dr. Luke attached to his complaint a birthday card signed 'Ke$ha' thanking Dr. Luke for 'making my wildest dreams come true.' TMZ.com described it as 'an over-the-top lovey dovey birthday card that makes it seem like their relationship is anything but abusive."