Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald, has been ruled as a “limited public figure” by the New York Court of Appeals. This decision, which comes just before the upcoming trial between the producer and Kesha, means that Dr. Luke will face a higher burden of proof in court due to his public figure status.
The court’s ruling overturns a previous decision by an appeals court that categorized him as a private figure.
Judge Michael Garcia stated in the ruling that by 2014, when Dr. Luke initiated the defamation action, he was already a celebrity and an acclaimed music producer with significant success in a high-profile career. Due to being categorized as a limited public figure, Dr. Luke will be required to present “convincing and unequivocal evidence” demonstrating that Kesha acted with intentional malice.
The ruling also determined that Kesha should have been allowed to file counterclaims against Dr. Luke for emotional distress and punitive damages. Dr. Luke’s attorney, Christine Lepera, expressed confidence that Kesha’s counterclaim will fail, and they expect Dr. Luke to prevail in the defamation claims.
“We are pleased that the Court of Appeals agreed with Dr. Luke that the vast majority of Ms. Sebert’s statements are properly the subject of his defamation claim,” Lepera says. “While the Court of Appeals is permitting Ms. Sebert to assert a counterclaim, it has been substantially narrowed.”
Lepera did not provide a specific comment regarding the “public figure” designation of the producer. Representatives for Kesha have not responded to requests for comment.
Kesha initially filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke in 2014, alleging prolonged sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and seeking to break her contract. In response, Dr. Luke countersued, denying all allegations and accusing Kesha of defamation.
While Kesha’s claims were largely dismissed in 2016 due to their age, Dr. Luke’s defamation case is scheduled to proceed to trial in July.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Kesha expressed frustration about feeling restricted in her ability to speak openly due to the ongoing litigation and scrutiny surrounding her statements.