Music producer Dr. Luke — aka Lukasz Gottwald — filed court papers on Monday asking a New York judge to allow him to add a defamation claim to his ongoing lawsuit against Kesha after learning of a text message she sent to Lady Gaga.
Kesha sent the message to Lady Gaga on Feb. 26, 2016, one week after a judge denied her request to get out of her contract with Dr. Luke, according to court documents. Dr. Luke's team said the text conversation, which came forward during the discovery phase of litigation, is evidence of Kesha’s “malicious campaign to destroy Gottwald’s reputation and career.”
In the text, Kesha “falsely stated that another female recording artist had been raped by Gottwald, and again repeated the baseless assertion that Kesha had been raped by Gottwald," according to court papers filed by Dr. Luke’s attorneys. His team said that Kesha made these false assertions for the “malicious purpose of further damaging [Dr. Luke’s] reputation and business.”
The court papers also said that the text did not specifically name Dr. Luke, but said that the other recording artist had been "raped by the same man," and "the surrounding context of the text message makes clear" that Dr. Luke was the person being referred to.
Dr. Luke and Kesha have been locked in a legal battle since Oct. 2014, when they each filed dueling lawsuits against each other. Kesha sued him in California for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, unfair business practices, and infliction of emotional distress. Almost simultaneously, Dr. Luke filed his own lawsuit against Kesha in New York for breach of contract and defamation. In June 2015, a judge put Kesha’s California case on hold after ruling that the New York case took precedent. She later dismissed the case to concentrate on defending herself against the NY lawsuit and focus on restarting her music career.
In these new court papers, Dr. Luke’s team argued that ever since he refused to renegotiate Kesha’s contract and give her better terms in 2012, she has engaged in a concerted effort to “blacklist Gottwald from the music industry on false premise of her victim status, and to influence others in the industry to boycott Gottwald.”
They allege that Kesha and her mother, Pebe Sebert, and her manager “hatched a campaign which was expressly and admittedly designed to ruin Gottwald’s business and reputation,” according to the complaint. The text message conversation, they said, is an example of that “vicious campaign.” In fact, since receiving Kesha’s text message, Lady Gaga has spread “negative messages about Dr. Luke in the press and even said during a radio interview that she possesses secret damaging information about Dr. Luke,” according to the court filings.
But Kesha’s legal team maintain in their own new complaint — also filed Monday —that Dr. Luke has been the one pushing a “vendetta against Kesha.” In the new documents, Kesha’s attorneys argue that, despite assurances to the court, Dr. Luke has failed to allow Kesha to return to work or release new music, and still is “maintaining absolute and complete control over every material decision facing Kesha’s career.”
Over the past 10 months “Kesha’s efforts to record and release her next album have been met with unfounded resistance and delay,” according to her court papers. While she handed over 20 songs this summer, not one song has been approved, no release date has been set for the album, and no promotional plan has been finalized for a release, her attorneys argued.
Per the exclusive recording contract she signed in 2005 when she was 18, Kesha must deliver five albums for Dr. Luke before their arrangement is terminated. Until she delivers three more, she could be locked into the contract for life. Kesha’s last album, Warrior, was released Nov. 30, 2012.
While Kesha no longer has to work in the same room as him, her attorneys said she is still under his control. The “untenable” situation will only get worse when Dr. Luke’s contract with Sony ends in March leaving her completely under Dr. Luke’s management control, bound to him until she completes three more albums. Kesha, they said, cannot be expected to work for a man “who has verbally abused her, made physical threats against her, and sued her and her mother for punitive damages in an attempt to bankrupt them both.”
“You can get a divorce from an abusive spouse. You can dissolve a partnership if the relationship becomes irreconcilable. The same opportunity — to be liberated from the physical, emotional, and financial bondage of a destructive relationship — should be available to a recording artist,” Kesha’s court papers state.
Given their history, Kesha’s attorneys said it is “impossible” for her and Dr. Luke to work together, and asked the court “in the interest of justice” to free her from the contract.
They also said Dr. Luke has materially breached the contract by withholding royalties and royalty statements due for more than two years, and only ultimately paid her a portion of the amounts due.
Kesha and Dr. Luke's next court hearing regarding this litigation has been set for Feb. 14.
Read Kesha's amended complaint:
Claudia Rosenbaum is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Claudia Rosenbaum at email@example.com.
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