Pop singer Kesha has faced an incredibly rough road so far in her legal battle with producer Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), but today saw one of the most notable setbacks yet.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich has denied Kesha the possibility of amending the counterclaims in the suit lodged against her by the producer, which argues that she has tarnished his name with her ongoing allegations of sexual abuse.
Kesha’s claims of a “hate crime” in response to her alleged sexual assault by Gottwald were thrown out last year, leading Gottwald to pursue retaliatory legal action against the singer.
Her amended counterclaim sought to introduce further contractual matters into these proceedings, alleging a breach of contract on the part of Gottwald’s company due to a refusal to deliver accounting statements, pay royalties, or sign off on the production of a new album.
The moves, Kesha argued, were deliberate and intended to leave her in a dire financial situation, but Gottwald’s lawyers retaliated with the allegation that Kesha owes $1.3m USD in royalties and failed to provide adequate notice of her inability to pay them.
While amendments to counterclaims are relatively common, Judge Kornreich has agreed with Gottwald’s assessment and denied Kesha’s proposed amendments.
“Here, Kesha made no showing that it would have been futile to send an appropriate notice or that she was prevented from doing so,” Kornreich asserted. “Thus, Kesha may not assert a counterclaim for breach of the Prescription Agreement.”
Having determined that Kesha has breached her recording agreement, Kornreich maintains that Kesha “cannot maintain a breach of contract claim based on the implied covenant”, a serious blow to her counterclaims against Gottwald and his company.
Another more creative effort from Kesha’s legal representatives has also been rebuked: a move to invoke California’s ‘Seven Year Rule’ on personal service contracts – in a New York courtroom.
“To protect young, newly discovered recording artists from this precise manner of exploitation in quasi-lifetime un-severable professional relationships, California labor law requires all music contracts to end within seven years of execution,” they argued in the amended counterclaim, but Kornreich instead honoured the New York ‘choice-of-law’ provision that had previously been agreed to.
“The parties’ choice of New York law should be enforced,” Kornreich argued, “unless the public policy of another jurisdiction has an overriding concern so strong that it trumps New York’s strong public policy in maintaining and fostering its undisputed status as the preeminent commercial and financial nerve center of the world.
“Turning to the case at bar, the parties to the Gottwald Agreements could have provided that they would terminate in seven years. The parties, represented by sophisticated counsel, chose not to put such an explicit provision into the agreements. Thus, their choice of law should be enforced.
The obscurity of the case, and its relatively minor consequence, did little to persuade the judge.
“Moreover, the single 1944 case cited by Kesha that mentions California’s public policy in enacting 2855 does not demonstrate an overriding public interest that is materially greater than New York’s interest in enforcing the parties’ choice of New York law.”
You can read the full account of these new developments over at The Hollywood Reporter.