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Kesha has contract appeal rejected again

By | Published on Wednesday 30 May 2018


Kesha has had another bid to cut herself free from various contracts with producer Dr Luke rejected by a New York appeals court.

The long-running legal dispute between the two former collaborators has many layers and has involved litigation in three different US states. Kesha accuses Dr Luke of drugging and raping her, while he says she is defaming him in an attempt to get out of contracts with a number of his companies.

Throughout the proceedings, she has made several attempts to be released – either permanently or temporarily – from her obligations to the producer. She argues that she is unable to properly further her career while still bound to these contracts and locked into this legal battle.

Although certain concessions have been made in regard to the various agreements, in particular allowing her to work with other producers, she is still unhappy that the man she says abused her continues to gain financially from her work.

Last March, another attempt to be released from her contracts was rejected. That particular lawsuit was submitted after negotiations between the two sides collapsed. It accused Luke’s label Kemosabe of breach of contract and withholding royalties.

Kesha’s lawyers also attempted to invoke California’s ‘seven year rule’ on personal services contracts. Many artists have used this bit of employment law – which allows personal services contracts entered into in California to be ended after seven years – to try to extract themselves from record deals, with varying degrees of success.

In Kesha’s case, her lawyers argued that while her contracts were written in New York, Dr Luke’s Kemosabe Records is based in LA and so should be bound by Californian employment law. But the court rejected that argument on the grounds that it was not explicitly stated when the contracts were originally written.

An updated legal claim was then submitted by the singer’s lawyers in November, and that now has also been rejected. The court said of Kesha’s most recent filing that her “proposed amendments are palpably insufficient and devoid of merit”.

The new ruling includes a number of points raised by previous courts, including the lack of documentation that proves Kesha is unable to perform while under contract to Kemosabe. Indeed, she has released a new album and resumed touring since her last claim was rejected.

“Her counterclaim seeking declaratory relief terminating the agreements on the ground of impossibility and impracticability of performance was speculative”, says the ruling. “[It was] contradicted by her own allegations that she had continued performing under the agreements and, as to at least one of the agreements, the impossibility was not produced by an unanticipated event that could not have been foreseen or guarded against”.

The court also upheld the previous ruling rejecting the argument that California’s seven year rule should apply. In conclusion, it said: “We have considered Kesha’s remaining arguments, … and find them unavailing”.

If Kesha and her legal team decide not to pursue a further appeal on this part of the case, then all that will remain for court consideration is Dr Luke’s defamation claim.