Since going public with abuse claims against her producer in 2014, Kesha has gotten substantial support in the court of public opinion. She has not fared so well in actual court.
Again on Tuesday, a New York judge turned down Kesha’s attempt to break her contract with Dr. Luke, rejecting a motion to file an amended complaint. The ruling from Judge Shirley Kornreich reiterates many of the points from the same judge’s earlier ruling, in April 2016, in which the singer’s claims against the producer were dismissed.
Dr. Luke, the stage name for Lukasz Gottwald, filed an initial complaint against Kesha in 2014 for failing to work on a third album as required under her contract. Kesha filed a countersuit, seeking to be released from the contract on the basis of allegations that Dr. Luke had raped her and verbally abused her over the course of several years.
In February 2016, Kornreich denied Kesha’s request for an injunction that would have allowed her to record an album outside of her contract. In her April 2016 ruling dismissing the countersuit, Kornreich noted that the two specific instances of sexual abuse alleged in the counterclaim each occurred before Kesha signed her contract with Dr. Luke. After the success of her first two albums, the judge noted that Kesha sought increased royalties, but Dr. Luke rejected the request.
Following the string of courthouse defeats, Kesha began working on the third album last fall. Her lawyers contend that Dr. Luke continues to interfere and delay the album’s release, which Dr. Luke denies. In January, Kesha’s attorneys sought to amend her original counterclaim, again seeking to release her from the contract.
“Dr. Luke has aggressively sought to financially destroy Kesha by keeping her under his control while simultaneously waging a nuclear litigation campaign against her,” her attorneys claimed. “It is a vendetta against Kesha… She is not demanding more money. Kesha asks for something far more basic: the freedom to make music without being bound indefinitely to the very producer who subjected her to years of abuse and continues that abuse to this day.”
Dr. Luke’s attorneys countered that she was attempting to litigate the dispute in the media.
“It was obviously designed to garner sympathetic headlines for Defendant, and further tarnish Plaintiffs, based upon false assertions and blatant mischaracterizations,” they wrote.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Kornreich ruled that Kesha could not advance claims for breach of the agreement because she herself had failed to perform her obligations. The judge took note that Dr. Luke’s accountants have calculated that she owes him $1.3 million in royalties, and has not paid him since 2012.