The judge overseeing Dr. Luke's five year defamation case against Kesha declined a request to hold the singer's former lawyer, Mark Geragos, in contempt on Tuesday (Dec. 17). Judge Jennifer Schecter issued a ruling saying that while "Geragos' conduct leaves much to be desired," Dr. Luke's team has not established there was a "clear violation of a court order or a lie made under oath."
Schecter also declined a request by Dr. Luke (née Lukasz Gottwald) to issue sanctions against Geragos. In her ruling, Schecter said that just because Geragos spoke to the press, it did not amount to some master "press plan," as Dr. Luke alleged. The judge further denied Dr. Luke's team's request to perform a "forensic review of Geragos' computers," finding it was not warranted.
As for Dr. Luke's claim that Geragos falsely concealed the existence of three documents requested in discovery, Schecter said she didn't find Geragos' answers to be "clearly false" but rather "somewhat ambiguous." She said in the ruling that alleged misrepresentations could have been cleared up with follow up questions.
Dr. Luke's attorney Christine Lepera says that while they disagree with Tuesday's decision, she still plans on seeking sanctions of Geragos at trial for his behavior.
"The Court already admonished Mr. Geragos, holding that he 'refused to abide by a court ruling' and that 'the court is dismayed at the conduct' of Mr. Geragos," Lepera said in a statement. "Although the Court declined to issue sanctions today, it has once again ruled that his behavior 'leaves much to be desired' and it 'remains troubled' by his deletion of evidence. The Court further held that Plaintiffs can seek sanctions at trial due to his destruction of evidence, which Plaintiffs fully intend to pursue."
As part of the arduous and lengthy litigation between the singer and music producer, Dr. Luke's legal team demanded in November that the court hold Geragos in contempt, accusing him of falsely saying under oath that three documents they were requesting had been deleted. When those documents were produced in a sister action — Dr. Luke's defamation lawsuit against Geragos — Dr. Luke's team accused Geragos of purposely concealing the evidence and making calculated actions to impede their case. At the time, they demanded that the court not only find him in contempt but to also order him to compensate them for damages. They also asked that he be ordered to submit all electronically stored information on his phones, tablets, computers, hard drives and cloud storage to an independent forensic examiner.
Geragos' attorney Robert Raskopf argued earlier this month against contempt and sanctions for his client, accusing Dr. Luke's team of attempting to use a contempt hearing as part of a "long-standing campaign to disparage Kesha in this court and in the media by branding her, and now her former counsel, as a liar in order to avoid the consequences of his years of abuse." Raskopf said in the motion that the contempt request was just another of Dr. Luke's "scorched-earth litigation tactics."
Raskopf also argued that Geragos' numerous communications with the press were not part of a coordinated media campaign but a direct response to Dr. Luke's attorney and crisis manager's attempts to "defame" and "slam" Kesha in the media. He also said that Geragos did not falsify testimony nor violate a mandate to produce documents at issue.
Kesha and her former music producer have been locked in litigation for more than five years. They filed dueling actions against each other in Oct. 2014, with Kesha accusing Dr. Luke of assault and Dr. Luke accusing Kesha of making defamatory allegations against him merely to get out of their exclusive recording contract. Kesha later dropped her lawsuit against Dr. Luke to concentrate on her music, though Dr. Luke is still pursuing his defamation action against the singer.