Dr. Luke’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Kesha: Everything to Know

Inside Kesha and Dr Lukes Defamation Trial

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After Kesha came forward with abuse allegations against Dr. Luke in 2014, the music producer fired back with a defamation lawsuit.

In court documents obtained by Us Weekly in October 2014, the “Blow” songstress detailed an alleged 2005 incident in which she woke up naked in Dr. Luke’s bed “sore and sick with no memory of how she got there” after the Kemosabe Records founder gave her what he allegedly described as “sober pills.”

Kesha claimed in the filing that Dr. Luke “threatened that if she ever mentioned the rape to anyone, he would shut her career down, take away all her publishing and recording rights, and otherwise destroy not only her life but her entire family’s lives as well.”

Dr. Luke filed a countersuit against Kesha that same day denying all of her allegations. His lawyer claimed in a statement to Us at the time that the pop star’s lawsuit was part “of a campaign of publishing outrageous and untrue statements.”

In August 2016, Kesha dropped the lawsuit and devoted her attention to single-praying-her-first-single-in-four-years-w491171/”>releasing new music. “Kesha is focused on getting back to work and has delivered 28 new songs to the record label,” her lawyer Daniel Petrocelli told Us in a statement at the time. “We have conveyed to Sony Music and the label Kesha’s strong desire to release the single and an album as soon as possible.”

Dr. Luke, however, continued to seek $50 million in damages from the “Take It Off” musician. In June 2023, Kesha won a major victory in the ongoing defamation trial when the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the record producer is legally a “public figure,” meaning he will need to prove that Kesha acted with “actual malice” in her accusations, a notoriously difficult standard to meet in defamation cases.

Keep scrolling for everything to know about Kesha and Dr. Luke’s legal battle:

What Did Kesha Accuse Dr. Luke of Doing?

In October 2014, the “Blah Blah Blah” artist filed a lawsuit against the producer for infliction of emotional distress, sex-based hate crimes and employment discrimination.

Kesha claimed in the filing that Dr. Luke drugged and raped her in 2005 and “threatened her and her family’s physical safety” if she came forward with abuse allegations.

Dr. Luke shot back with a defamation lawsuit against Kesha, denying all of her allegations.

Kesha’s Request to Be Released From Sony Contract Is Denied

In February 2016, an injunction for Kesha to be released from her Sony Contract with Dr. Luke was denied by a New York City judge.

Dr. Luke’s lawyers argued that their client had already agreed to allow Kesha to work with Sony without his involvement, an arrangement a judge deemed reasonable.

The “Your Love Is My Drug” singer received an outpouring of support from fans and fellow celebrities alike in the wake of the legal defeat. That same month, Dr. Luke made his first public comment about the lawsuit.

“They are getting behind an allegation only — motivated by money,” he wrote via Twitter at the time.

In a subsequent tweet, he maintained his innocence, writing, “I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister.”

Kesha, meanwhile, penned an emotional letter to her fans.

“This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract — it was never about getting a bigger, or a better deal. This is about being free from my abuser. I would be willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser,” she wrote.

A Legal Victory for Dr. Luke

In February 2020, a New York supreme court judge ruled that Kesha defamed Dr. Luke when she claimed in a text message to Lady Gaga that he had raped Katy Perry.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that [Dr. Luke] raped Katy Perry, or that Katy Perry, whose sworn testimony is unrefuted, must not be believed,” Judge Jennifer G. Schechter stated, according to The Guardian. Schechter emphasized that the ruling did not provide a definite answer to whether Dr. Luke sexually assaulted Kesha, which would be determined in a separate trial.

Kesha was ordered to pay Dr. Luke’s company $374,000 related to late royalty fees.

Inside Kesha and Dr Lukes Defamation Trial

Dr. Luke and Katy Perry display their awards during the 27th Annual Ascap Pop Music Awards
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Does the Defamation Trial Have a Date?

In November 2022, a New York judge set a July 2023 trial date for Dr. Luke’s defamation lawsuit against Kesha. The music mogul’s lawyers said in a statement to Rolling Stone at the time that their client was “ready and willing” to begin a trial that he “looks forward to winning.”

A Legal Victory for Kesha

In June 2023, a top New York appeals court ruled that Dr. Luke is legally a “public figure,” meaning he will need to prove Kesha acted with “actual malice” when making allegations against him.

In order to meet the notoriously difficult legal standard — which was created by the U.S. Supreme Court in a famous 1964 ruling for The New York Times — Dr. Luke will have to prove that Kesha either knew her accusations were false or that she acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

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