Judge Declares That Kesha Should’ve Known Dr. Luke Was Going to Rape and Abuse Her, Rejects Her Lawsuit
For the past two and a half years, Kesha has been trying to get out of her contract with music producer Dr. Luke, whom she alleges has subjected her to years of abuse and rape while threatening her career and family. This week, she appeared in front of the New York Supreme Court, hoping against hope that Justice Shirley Kornreich, who has previously ruled in Dr. Luke’s favor, would reconsider an amended lawsuit. However, Kornreich sided with him again, this time with a side-helping of victim blaming.
Previous attempts to get out of her contract as written, based on pointing out specific sections where Dr. Luke was in breach, or loopholes based on state laws, have been unsuccessful. This time, Kesha’s team amended their suit, focusing on the bigger picture: that this contract is trapping her in an abusive relationship. The amended suit reads in part:
“You can get a divorce from an abusive spouse. You can dissolve a partnership if the relationship becomes irreconcilable. The same opportunity — to be liberated from the physical, emotional, and financial bondage of a destructive relationship — should be available to a recording artist.”
In other words, just because this is a business contract doesn’t mean there isn’t also a human element; one in which the safety and well-being of an actual human person is at stake. Clearly, Justice Kornreich has no time for talk of humanity. After all, but what about financial obligations though! And what if suddenly EVERY female recording artist claims rape and abuse to get out of a contract?! So, let’s base our response on the off chance that THAT might happen, rather than erring on the side of caution. And decency.
As the ruling explains, Sebert alleges abuse dating back to 2005. She “pled that Gottwald’s verbal and physical threats were not foreseeable” when she signed with Kemosabe/Kasz Money Inc. and Prescription Songs (the production and publishing companies, respectively, owned by Gottwald). But Sebert signed with Prescription on November 26, 2008, at which point, Kornreich ruled, “Gottwald’s allegedly abusive behavior was foreseeable.”
Justice Kornreich clearly knows so much about how abuse works and how abuse victims think. Which is awesome, because she’s a judge and can protect them. Right? /sarcasm
Also, Kesha’s contract with Dr. Luke, the one she’s now trying to get out of, is a California contract, and the alleged abuses took place in California. So, why are they dealing with this in New York? Because a clause in that very contract allows Dr. Luke to change the legal venue where disputes will be heard. This provision is one of the many things that’s hurting Kesha’s case, as Justice Kornreich also rejected Kesha’s evocation of Calfornia’s Seven-Year Rule on personal service contracts:
“As her counterclaim states, “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.” But Kornreich opted to honor a New York choice-of-law provision — essentially, house rules.”
Yes, there’s legal contract stuff. But there’s also a lack of fundamental human decency at play here. There’s rape culture at play here. There’s sexism at play here. Very often, what you can “get away with” doing legally is precisely the opposite of what is actually ethical or just. Did Justice Kornreich have legal grounds for ruling the way she did? Of course. Doesn’t make it right.
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