Kesha drops abuse lawsuit, continues to fight producer's label

By Carrie Salls | Aug 19, 2016

LOS ANGELES – Singer and songwriter Kesha has dropped a lawsuit filed in California alleging that her producer sexually abused her, although other legal disputes between the two remain.


Kesha Rose Sebert’s suit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald was stayed in June 2015 to allow the parties to await the outcome of a defamation lawsuit filed by the producer against the singer in a New York court.


The lawsuit filed by Sebert in California in October 2014 claimed sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, civil harassment, unfair business, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.


Gottwald’s defamation lawsuit was filed against Kesha Sebert, her mother Pebe Sebert, and her manager Jack Rovner. In that lawsuit, Gottwald alleged that the Seberts “orchestrated a campaign of publishing false and shocking accusations against Gottwald to extort plaintiffs” Gottwald also alleged “tortious interference,” claiming that Rovner pitted Kesha Sebert against Gottwald to take control of her music career.


Kesha filed an appeal in the New York litigation following the February 2016 denial of her motion for approval to record music for a label other than Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records, which is part of the Sony record label. That appeal is pending.


Melissa K. Dagodag, a Beverley Hills-based entertainment lawyer, said the various legal issues raised by Kesha and Dr. Luke over the course of their litigation should not be viewed as one central dispute.


“The issue of whether Kesha can terminate her recording contract is actually quite separate from the issue of rape allegations,” Dagodag told the Northern California Record. “It may seem unfortunate and infuriating, but it’s legally correct that the two are distinct issues.”


With sexual assault allegations pending, Kesha fans and other celebrities started a grassroots movement calling for the singer to be freed from her contract with Dr. Luke and his record label. Dr. Luke has claimed that the allegations constitute an attempt by Kesha to get out of her contract with his label.


Kemosabe Records approved Kesha’s performance at the Billboard Music Awards in May, but the label initially attempted to stop her from performing there amid concerns that the singer might try to talk about the litigation at the event.


Dagodag said, legally, Kesha had little chance of escaping her contract with Kemosabe Records.


“There are ways to invalidate a contract, such as arguing that the person who entered into the contract was a minor at the time of signing the contract, which may make the contract void,” Dagodag said. “But, there do not appear to have been valid arguments that Kesha's contract is void, voidable or has a termination provision in it that Kesha may exercise.”


In addition to denying her request to record for another label, the New York court dismissed counterclaims filed by Kesha against Dr. Luke in the defamation lawsuit. Those counterclaims raised allegations of emotional distress, employment discrimination and gender-based hate crimes.


“Kesha may still try to get the (district attorney) to potentially file rape charges against Dr. Luke or try to bring a civil suit of some kind against Dr. Luke for the rape,” Dagodag said.

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