Dr. Luke Must Prove ‘Actual Malice’ in Defamation Lawsuit Against Kesha

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Kesha has scored a victory in her long legal battle with music producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald.

New York Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter ruled on Wednesday that Dr. Luke, 47, must now prove “actual malice” on the 34-year-old singer’s part in order to win his defamation lawsuit against her in trial, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Schecter also ruled that Kesha will now be able to seek damages and attorneys fee, the outlet reported.

The ruling came after Kesha’s counsel asked the court’s permission to assert a new counterclaim and cited an anti-SLAPP law that was passed last year to protect free speech from frivolous lawsuits.

Since Schecter previously ruled that that Dr. Luke is not a public figure, Kesha’s attorneys argued Dr. Luke — as a private figure — must demonstrate that Kesha “had knowledge of falsity or recklessly disregarded the truth” when she alleged that she had been drugged and raped by the music producer, THR reported. 

PA Images via Getty Kesha     

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An attorney for Dr. Luke told PEOPLE in a statement that Wednesday’s court hearing “was only about a technical legal issue: the burden of proof at trial. Dr. Luke would have filed this case regardless of the burden of proof.”

“At trial, Dr. Luke will prove to the jury, as he has always maintained, that Kesha spread a vicious lie to get out of her contracts,” the attorney said. “Kesha refuses to make any claim against Luke that she would have the burden of proof on—because she knows she would lose and that she is lying.”

The new development in the pair’s ongoing legal battle comes more than a year after Schecter ruled in a summary judgement that Kesha did defame Dr. Luke when she claimed in a text message to Lady Gaga that he had also allegedly raped Katy Perry.

Related video: Kesha Talks Reclaiming Her Voice After Lawsuit

“Though Gottwald has sought publicity for his label, his music, and his artists — none of which are the subject of the defamation here — he never injected himself into the public debate about sexual assault or abuse of artists in the entertainment industry,” said Schecter in the ruling.

“The only reason Gottwald has any public connection to the issues raised in this lawsuit is because they were raised in this lawsuit,” the ruling continued. “That cannot convert him into a limited public figure.”

RELATED: Katy Perry Denied Dr. Luke Raped Her in Unsealed Deposition as Kelly Clarkson Called Him ‘Sleazy’

At the time, Kesha — whom Dr. Luke claims had made up the accusation in order to get out of her recording contract — was ordered to pay $373,671.88 in interest on a more than $1.3 million royalty payment she made to Dr. Luke’s record label, KMI, in August 2017.

In response to the ruling, Kesha’s legal team said in a statement to PEOPLE at the time, “Judge Schecter issued rulings today on motions for summary judgment in the Dr. Luke litigation. We disagree with the Court’s rulings. We plan to immediately appeal.”

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