What's Next for Kesha? Exploring the Singer's Murky Legal Battle with Dr. Luke

Kesha at Delete Blood Cancer Gala
Kesha attends the 9th Annual Delete Blood Cancer Gala in New York, April 16, 2015. The star's counterclaim against alleged abuser Dr. Luke has been dismissed by a New York judge. Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Kesha was dealt a severe blow in her ongoing legal battle with Dr. Luke, whom she alleges sexually abused her, and record label Sony Music on Wednesday when a New York court dismissed her abuse claims against the music producer.

The singer said it was tantamount to “slavery” to force her to remain contracted to Kemosabe Records, a sub-imprint of Sony Music owned by Luke-real name Lukasz Gottwald - following a court ruling in February that denied her an injunction to record music outside of her record deal.

But on Wednesday, Kesha faced a further setback when New York supreme court judge Shirley Kornreich dismissed several of her counterclaims seeking to overturn that decision.

The judge ruled that Kesha failed to provide adequate proof to meet New York legal standards for alleged hate crimes and severe emotional abuse.

“There are no facts to support Gottwald’s animus toward women,” said Kornreich. “Gottwald is alleged to have made offensive remarks about Kesha’s weight, appearance, and talent, not about women in general. Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime.”

Kornreich said that, in order to meet the definition of a hate crime, Kesha would need to show proof of physical violence or property damage. However, an allegation of sexual assault in 2008 is “time-barred” by the statute of limitations, which only allows for incidents in the last five years.

The judge added the “Tik Tok” singer had provided “insufficient” evidence to support her claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, saying "insults about her value as an artist, her looks and her weight are insufficient to constitute extreme, outrageous conduct intolerable in civilized society."

Ultimately, Kornreich felt that as most of the incidents occurred in California, it wasn’t in her jurisdiction to decide the outcome of the case in New York—where it had migrated due to a clause in Kesha’s recording contract.

So where to now for Kesha? The star’s legal battle with Gottwald is murky to say the least. She initially filed her complaint against the music producer in California in October 2014, and later repeated the claims of sexual abuse in a counterclaim in New York after Gottwald sued her for breach of contract there.

It seems Kornreich’s statement is offering leeway for Kesha to pursue action back in California, where proceedings were stayed pending the outcome of the New York litigation.

“[Kesha’s] been told by the New York judge that she should be bringing her case in California. I imagine her lawyer will be looking at that jurisdiction clause and whether it’s an exclusive jurisdiction clause,” U.K. entertainment lawyer Paul Renney explained to Newsweek . “If it’s non-exclusive, you could start proceedings in California. I suspect because the judge made this comment [about jurisdiction] it’s non-exclusive.”

Renney added, “She might find because judges in California hear these cases more often than in New York, because more of the music business takes place in California, there may be a more sympathetic hearing.”

As for further legal recourse, Renney says Kesha’s argument that she’s a “slave” to the label is “grasping at straws to get out of this record contract.” He points out that Sony did offer the opportunity to record music without the involvement of Gottwald, which was seen as reasonable by Judge Kornreich.

For now, Kesha’s immediate future appears to be tied exclusively to her existing contract with Sony while she explores her legal options. The singer still has three albums to deliver under her five-album deal with the label.

“She’s not going to get out of this recording contract unless she can prove Sony are in breach in some way,” said Renney. “They’re going to be careful they’re not in breach. I suspect they’re hoping some water will be under the bridge, time will pass by, and they’ll be nicer to her and she’ll come back on side.”

Meanwhile, the court battle between Kesha and Gottwald will continue as a New York court tackles the music producer’s breach of contract lawsuit against the singer, and Kesha’s California lawsuit also remains in the background.