Kesha Again Blocked From Breaking Contracts With Dr. Luke

Posted May 29, 2018 6:55 p.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2018 6:58 p.m. EDT

Pop singer and songwriter Kesha, who has for years battled in court to be freed from her recording contracts, cannot pursue a countersuit against her longtime producer Dr. Luke that would void their business relationship, a New York appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Affirming a ruling delivered last year by a lower court, the First Department Court of Appeals said in its decision that the singer’s proposed amendments to her earlier lawsuit, which claimed that Dr. Luke had raped her and been abusive throughout her career, were “palpably insufficient and devoid of merit.” (Dr. Luke has denied Kesha’s accusations and is suing the singer for defamation and breach of contract.)

The ruling was the latest legal defeat for Kesha (born Kesha Rose Sebert), who has argued that she was owed royalties by Dr. Luke’s companies and that she could not perform under her contract because of the dissolution of her professional relationship with the producer.

“You can get a divorce from an abusive spouse,” the singer’s proposed countersuit said. “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.”

But in Tuesday’s ruling, the court said that Kesha’s “counterclaim seeking declaratory relief terminating the agreements on the ground of impossibility and impracticability of performance was speculative, contradicted by her own allegations that she had continued performing under the agreements.”

Kesha has toured in recent years and released a new album, “Rainbow,” last year on RCA and Kemosabe Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music started in 2012 as a joint venture with Dr. Luke. Although Dr. Luke was no longer the chief executive of Kemosabe, Kesha remained professionally tied to the producer through earlier contracts with his Kasz Money Inc. production company, as well as his publishing company, Prescription Songs.

Lawyers for Kesha argued that a California rule that limits personal services contracts to seven years should be applied in her case. But the appeals court, affirming the earlier decision, said the rule was not applicable in New York.

Christine Lepera, a lawyer for Dr. Luke (born Lukasz Gottwald), said in a statement that the producer was pleased with the ruling. “Kesha’s false accusations have caused tremendous damage to Dr. Luke, his family and his businesses,” she added. “Luke is proceeding with his defamation case in order to address these matters through the courts.”

In its decision, the appeals court also upheld a ruling that said that Kesha must produce documents from her public relations team and her former lawyer, Mark Geragos, as part of Dr. Luke’s ongoing defamation case, which could go to trial this year.

“The communications between her counsel and press agents do not reflect a discussion of legal strategy relevant to the pending litigation but, rather, a discussion of a public relations strategy, and are not protected under the attorney-client privilege,” the decision said.

Representatives for Kesha did not respond to a request for comment.