Dr. Luke’s defamation lawsuit against Kesha hasn’t yet gone to trial, but a judge has already ordered the singer-songwriter to pay over $373,000 in damages.
On Thursday, New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer Schecter ruled that Kesha had in fact defamed Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald — known professionally as Dr. Luke — when she sent Lady Gaga a text claiming that Dr. Luke had raped Katy Perry. The allegation was subsequently alluded to on social media by Kesha’s attorney, and Katy Perry’s team indicated that it was untrue.
Judge Schecter also ordered Kesha to pay $373,671.88, for delaying the payment of royalties that he was owed and otherwise breaching the terms of their contract.
Importantly, Judge Schecter indicated that Dr. Luke will not be considered a public figure in the upcoming trial.
It’s exceedingly difficult for public figures to win defamation suits in American courts, as it must be demonstrated that false claims were made with malicious intent. Non-public figures, inversely, must only prove that claims made against them were baseless and designed to serve some sort of ulterior motive — creating additional negotiating power, in this instance.
In November 2019, Dr. Luke accused Kesha’s attorney of lying under oath, a claim that was promptly denied. The legal fiasco began in 2014, when Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke for allegedly mismanaging her career and, after a 2005 party, raping her; an additional rape allegation followed. However, per Judge Schecter’s filing, even Kesha has admitted that she “has no memory of Gottwald assaulting her”; the claim was made while under oath, as part of a separate 2011 lawsuit.
Despite this multifaceted dispute, Kesha is currently set to begin her High Road Tour in April. The 28-show concert series will bring Kesha to many American cities, as well as Windsor and London. The namesake album, High Road, dropped on January 31st.
The back-and-forth battle will become much more interesting when Dr. Luke’s lawsuit is tried before a jury. Though nothing is set in stone, the momentum appears to be on his side.