In the never ending saga that is the Dr. Luke versus Kesha lawsuit, new allegations have surfaced and each side has amended their respective lawsuits against each other. While Kesha's lawsuit was amended to include seemingly random statements about Dr. Luke that tend to not have any legal bearing whatsoever, Dr. Luke's new claims appear to be legally sound and based upon actual events.
In addition to the new claims about new commissions owed by Kesha to Dr. Luke under the contract for recent performances, it is being claimed that Kesha made defamatory statements about Dr. Luke to the superstar Lady Gaga via text message. Allegedly, Kesha texted to Lady Gaga that Dr. Luke had raped her and another recording artist. The text message defamatory statement to Lady Gaga was then used as the basis for other statements made by Lady Gaga about Dr. Luke, which in turn, led to reputational damage for Dr. Luke.
What Qualifies as Defamation?
Defamation is one of those legal terms that gets bandied about more often than it should. However, in Dr. Luke's case, the defamation claim appears to be a perfect fit. Basically, defamation occurs when an individual makes a false statement about another individual that is heard, read, or seen, by another, and the person who the statement is about suffers injury (financial loss or reputational harm suffices as an injury). Defamation includes both libel (written) and slander (spoken).
Dr. Luke's defamation claim seems strong, particularly as the court attempted to explain to Kesha when it denied her injunction that she needs to present actual evidence of abuse, or assault, to support her allegations, which she has yet to do, despite making these serious allegations years ago.
What is Defamation Per Se?
Additionally, there are certain categories of statements that qualify as defamation that do not require an injured party to show they were injured by the statement. These are known as defamation per se statements. While they vary from state to state, they tend to include untrue statements about violating the law, engaging in sexual misconduct, or having a "loathsome" disease (such as a STD). Here, although Dr. Luke would likely be able to prove reputational harm due to Kesha's statement to Lady Gaga, because it involves sexual misconduct that Dr. Luke claims is false, it could potentially qualify as defamation per se.