The record producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald has lost the first round in his legal war against his former artist Kesha this month, failing to block her claim of being raped by him against his defamation claims against her in court.
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October 2014 saw fans of the star learn that she had filed a lawsuit against the producer in which she claimed she had been forced to snort drugs and was raped by him, going onto claim that she was locked into contracts that robbed her of “any meaningful profit from her work due to Dr. Luke’s exploitation of her over the last decade.”
Luke countered with a complaint of his own hours later, accusing the singer/songwriter of carving out the story in a bid to slice him out of her career and repudiate their long standing record deal.
So, why has Kesha’s case been prioritised over Luke’s?
Since the filings, the judges in the case have had to figure out who is going first. With an overcrowded court docket, judges are always leery of expending resources if there’s a pending dispute in another jurisdiction that has the potential of resolving, or at least coloring, a legal action.
Earlier this month, New York Supreme Court justice Shirley Kornreich decided that the California case should move first. In ordering that Dr. Luke’s defamation action be stayed, she said that both lawsuits “present similar claims with the possibility of inconsistent judgments, and the California case alleges specific California statutory claims.”
She also pointed out that Kesha and Dr. Luke both reside there, and that the alleged torts (the claimed sexual abuse, among other things) took place in California.
This arguably gives Kesha a tactical advantage, and Dr. Luke’s side isn’t happy because they see the overall controversy as primarily one over contracts — deals that designate New York as the forum to adjudicate any dispute. For this reason, they’ve been pressing the California judge to delay Kesha’s lawsuit in favor of their own.
Now, in a bid to appeal, Dr. Luke’s side argues that the New York judge “lacked discretion to effectively re-write the parties’ contracts,” to pause a dispute that involves parties who aren’t involved in the California lawsuit, and to hold off on adjudicating his claims of defamation and breach of contract. In short, Dr. Luke is unhappy at the loss of controlling the place and nature of the battle.