#FreeKesha faithful, take heart, Kesha may have dropped her lawsuit against her producer and alleged abuser Dr. Luke in California on Monday, but she’s not done fighting — and the fact that she dropped that case likely has no bearing on whether she’ll eventually prevail.
The long legal saga between the “Tik Tok” singer and Dr. Luke — whom Kesha has accused of sexually, physically and emotionally abusing her — took a dramatic turn on this week when she dismissed her case in California while continuing her appeal in New York. But according to Devin McRae, an entertainment litigator with L.A. law firm Early, Sullivan, Wright, Gizer & McRae, Kesha’s dismissal of the California action is not the game-changer it might at first seem.
“I wouldn’t make too much of it,” McRae said, noting that, since the California case was stayed last year, it wasn’t proceeding in the Golden State anyway.
The California case was reportedly stayed because of an agreement in the singer’s contract with Sony stating that disputes should be settled in New York. California courts typically honor such provisions, McRae said.
“If there’s a valid forum-selection contract, and it requires a dispute to be litigated in a different state or country, and the choice is reasonable, California courts will normally stay or dismiss a local action without undergoing an exhaustive forum non-convenience analysis,” McRae continued. “Basically, the court stays the action but, so long as the party is able to litigate that case in the other forum, it’s not going to proceed in California anyway.”
While Kesha dismissed the California case without prejudice, meaning that she could theoretically take the case up again at another point, that’s not likely to happen, the attorney explained.
“If she litigates these claims in New York, she’s not really going to be able to litigate them again in California,” McRae said. “She wouldn’t be able to lose in New York, and then come to California and say, ‘I want to try again.'”
After Kesha decided to dismiss the California action, Dr. Luke’s attorney, Christine Lepera, heralded the move as vindication for her client, who has strongly denied the allegations against him.
“Recently, the California Court invited Dr. Luke and the other defendants to move to dismiss Kesha’s claims in that action. Kesha never should have brought her false and meritless claims against Dr. Luke in any court,” Lepera said in a statement.
McRae cautioned against reading too much into Lepera’s statement, calling it “posturing.”
“I think that’s more just posturing and that’s kind of a publicity thing,” he said. “I wouldn’t give much weight to that comment.”