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Kesha v Dr Luke: Two of the producer’s lawsuits are dismissed

By | Published on Thursday 4 February 2016


The ongoing legal battle between Kesha and producer Dr Luke now has various concurrent strands to it, and yesterday there were rulings in New York on two of them.

As previously reported, Kesha Sebert accuses Lukasz ‘Dr Luke’ Gottwald of plying her with drugs and alcohol and raping her as a teenager. He has countersued for defamation, saying that these are fabrications invented in an attempt to get the singer out of her contract with his Kemosabe Records label.

Also on the receiving end of legal action from Gottwald are Kesha’s manager, Jack Rovner of Vector Management, and her mother Pebe Sebert. Both are accused of interfering with Kesha’s business relationship with Kemosabe, and of encouraging her of to renege on the commitments she had made in her record contact with Gottwald’s company. Sebert Senior is also accused of defamation over a pubic smearing campaign she allegedly organised against the producer.

The key ruling this week relates to the allegation of tortious interference with Kesha’s record contract by Rovner. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gottwald claimed that this was the result of acrimony between him and the manager, which resulted from the latter being jealous that the former had the upper hand when it came to Kesha’s recording career.

In the word’s of Gottwald’s lawsuit: “[The acrimony between the two men was] due to the fact, among other things, that in numerous conferences regarding Kesha’s career which were attended by Gottwald, Rovner and third parties, Rovner made suggestions regarding creative and business matters which Gottwald rejected. Rovner, who is the former head of a record label and is used to being treated as ‘the boss,’ was enraged by these perceived slights by Gottwald. The fact that third parties witnessed them made Rovner even angrier. This was far more than Rovner’s ego could take; accordingly, Rovner now hates Gottwald”.

But, when considering Rovner’s request for this particular lawsuit to be dismissed, the judge hearing the case said that the fact the manager hated and/or was jealous of Gottwald was not relevant. Moreover, the judge concurred with Rovner’s lawyer who said that, when advising Kesha on her contractual relationship with Gottwald, Rovner was simply acting within the scope of his authority as an artist manager.

Said the judge: “Although plaintiffs allege that Rovner hates and is jealous of Gottwald, that is not enough. The case requires a showing that the agent acted outside the scope of his authority, in bad faith, and committed an independent tort. Even assuming hatred and jealousy amount to bad faith, they are not torts”.

Meanwhile, one of the lawsuits against Kesha’s mother was also dismissed, though more on a technicality. Sebert argued that the injury alleged in the lawsuit did not occur in New York State, and she is not tied to the clause in her daughter’s contract that sets out what jurisdiction disputes will be settled in. Therefore the matter is outside the remit of the New York courts. Though Gottwald has also sued in Tennessee, so that legal battle will continue, but only on one front.

Meanwhile, Gottwald’s legal rep has said that she is reviewing this week’s rulings and will consider whether to appeal. The next strand of the wider case to be considered is Kesha’s request for an injunction to allow her to release a record with Kemosabe parent company Sony Music while this legal battle goes through the motions.