By Shannon Frost Greenstein
As you’re probably aware, in 2014, pop star Kesha filed a lawsuit against music producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwalt. The suit, which can be viewed in full here, alleges that Dr. Luke sexually, physically, emotionally, and verbally abused Kesha for a full decade in an attempt to “maintain complete control over her life and career.”
Dr. Luke was the executive producer on both of her albums, 2010’s Animal and 2012’s Warrior, and signed her to a contract under Sony imprint Kemosabe Records covering her next six albums. After being served with Kesha’s lawsuit, he countersued for defamation, claiming Kesha, her mother, and her manager were undertaking “a campaign of publishing false and shocking accusations” to help the singer break her recording contract.
The next three years, for anyone who’s been paying attention, have been a protracted legal battle between the two. A flurry of fans and celebrities have spoken out in support of Kesha, donating to her legal fees and offering encouragement on their high-visibility social media pages. Meanwhile, Dr. Luke is no longer CEO at Kemosabe, and it appears that the tide of public opinion is substantially gaining in Kesha’s favor.
Legally, however, that just isn’t the case.
Just last week, a hearing was held by New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich to determine if Sunshine Sachs, the PR firm behind Kesha’s press strategy back when the lawsuit originated, is required to produce documents associated with the litigation. Dr. Luke’s attorneys believe the material will augment his defamation suit against Kesha, while Kesha’s lawyers believe these documents are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Released yesterday, a transcript of the hearing suggests Judge Kornreich is leaning towards Dr. Luke’s stance that the Sunshine Sachs documents are media, rather than legal, strategy. If that is the case, there is no legal recourse for Kesha’s team to keep them out of court.
“I have found that that press plan is not privilege,” the judge commented. “It’s nothing more than a public relations piece of material. It has nothing, nothing at all to do with any kind of legal advice.”
Nonetheless, she is ultimately holding off on a ruling, in order to review the necessary material. The documents in question are reported to detail “a deluge of negative media attention and public pressure” towards Dr. Luke on the basis of Kesha’s sexual harassment claims. The press plan included such information as appearances Kesha would make to support her position, and how to handle the denials made by Dr. Luke.
There’s no word yet which way the judge will rule, but one thing is clear: The struggle between Kesha and Dr. Luke is far from over, and there’s no telling what could happen next in a court of law.