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Set back for Kesha as judge says Dr Luke dispute should be heard in New York

By | Published on Friday 19 June 2015


One half of the Kesha v Dr Luke legal battle is on hold, after a Californian judge said the matter should be heard in a New York court.

As previously reported, Kesha Sebert filed a lawsuit against producer Lukasz ‘Dr Luke’ Gottwald in LA last year, claiming that he had forced her to “take drugs and alcohol in order to take advantage of her sexually while she was intoxicated” when she was eighteen. She also accuses him of actual rape and of further abuse leading to her suffering from bulimia.

Gottwald almost immediately filed a countersuit in New York accusing the singer of defamation, and arguing that Sebert was making the claims to get out of contractual commitments to him and his company.

Sebert’s contract with Gottwald’s label said that any disputes must be heard in the New York courts. But the singer’s legal reps argued that this case was not a contractual dispute, and anyway their client hadn’t entered into that contract freely. Then earlier this month Sebert added Sony Music – to which Gottwald’s company is affiliated – as a defendant in the case. This move may well have been partly motivated by the fact her contract with Sony did not restrict legal matters to the New York jurisdiction.

But the judge hearing the case in California, Barbara Scheper, this week said that, while this wasn’t specifically a contractual dispute given the allegations made against Gottwald, the contracts that exist between the two parties are referenced in Sebert’s litigation, which also asks that the court void past agreements. And, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Scheper added that there was “no evidence that the agreements were not the result of an arm’s length negotiation”.

Scheper’s ruling doesn’t stop the case continuing in New York, and Sebert may now file her own legal proceedings there to counter Gottwald’s defamation suit. Though presumably Sebert’s attorneys chose to pursue their action in California for a reason, and Gottwald’s reps seem to be treating this set back for the singer as a victory of sorts.