Artist News Business News Industry People Legal Top Stories

Kesha v Dr Luke defamation trial pushed back to July 2023

By | Published on Tuesday 8 November 2022


The long running legal battle between Kesha and Dr Luke is now scheduled to get properly to court in July next year. A February hearing had originally been anticipated, but that has been pushed back because of ongoing appeals regarding some side issues that could impact on what needs to be proven when the defamation dispute gets to trial.

Luke’s defamation lawsuit against Kesha is all that remains of what began as a multi-layered multi-state legal battle which was kickstarted when Kesha accused Luke of rape. He denies those allegations and – arguing that Kesha’s claims have negatively impacted on his career – he sued for defamation.

The side issues currently subject to appeal mainly relate to whether or not Luke has to show that Kesha acted with actual malice when making her allegations against him. If he does, that would increase Luke’s burden in court and make it harder for him to win.

The producer would have that obligation if the court considered him to be a public figure or if new free speech rules in New York state were applied retrospectively to lawsuits that were already in progress when they came into force, like this one. However, the judge hearing the case previously decided Luke was not a public figure and that those new free speech rules should not apply.

It’s those decisions – and another relating to whether the allegedly defamatory statements are protected by certain “litigation privileges” – that are being appealed. Back in August, legal reps for Kesha told the court hearing the main dispute that – while they were eager for said dispute to get to trial as soon as possible – that trial shouldn’t go ahead until the New York Court Of Appeal has ruled on the side issues.

The lawyers wrote in a letter: “It would be a monumental waste of party and judicial resources to proceed to trial when there is a very real risk that a new trial immediately would be required, as would be the case if the Court Of Appeals reverses as to any of the several questions currently before it”.

Kesha’s lawyers insisted that they had been trying to “expedite proceedings” in the appeals court in a bid to have resolution on the side issues before the planned February dates for the main trial. However, they argued, the Luke side had been obstructing those efforts. The Luke side, unsurprisingly, rejected those claims, stating that any further delay in the main case would be the result of the Kesha side filing yet more “meritless” appeals.

Either way, the judge overseeing the main case, Jennifer G Schecter, seemingly agrees that it would be good to have the appeal rulings on Luke’s status, or not, as a public figure before proceeding with the trial. Presumably reckoning that is unlikely before next February, she has now confirmed that the main defamation dispute will be heard in her court between 19 and 26 Jul 2023. We’ll see if those target dates can now be met.