Jason Derulo Sex Harassment Lawsuit Dismissed on Technicality, Plaintiff Vows She’ll File Again

Jason Derulo performs on stage at Wizink Center on April 03, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. - Credit: Mariano Regidor/WireImage
Jason Derulo performs on stage at Wizink Center on April 03, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. - Credit: Mariano Regidor/WireImage

A California judge dismissed on Tuesday the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against multiplatinum artist Jason Derulo by aspiring singer Emaza Gibson last year. At a court hearing in downtown Los Angeles, the judge ruled that Gibson signed contracts with Derulo and his label Atlantic Records in which she agreed to handle any disputes using New York state law and Manhattan-based courts. Gibson’s lawyer immediately vowed to refile her claims on the East Coast.

“This case is still very much in play. The judge did not rule on the merits of the plaintiff’s claims but merely changed the venue,” Gibson’s lawyer Ronald Zambrano said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “The allegations against Derulo by Ms. Gibson remain unchanged and we remain committed to holding him accountable for his reprehensible and illegal conduct. The lawsuit will be refiled in New York, and we fully intend to win.”

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Before the judge’s ruling Tuesday, Zambrano argued that some of his client’s claims, including her claim of quid-pro-quo sexual harassment, made “no reference to a contract,” so they shouldn’t be subject to the terms of the signed agreements. In court filings, he stated the alleged harassment happened in California and should be governed by California state law. “The contract cannot have an influence on those claims,” Zambrano told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kerry Bensinger at the hearing.

“The tort claims are related to the agreement,” Derulo’s lawyer Camilo Echavarria countered. “The forum selection clause is extremely broad. It’s not just for claims of breach of contract. It’s for any action related to the agreement. And the entire existence of this entire relationship originates from the agreement.”

Judge Bensinger ultimately sided with Derulo, ruling that Gibson’s artist and recording agreements signed in February 2022 included “forum selection” clauses stating the sole jurisdiction for any actions related to the recording relationship would be state or federal court located in New York County.

In her lawsuit filed last October, Gibson alleged that Derulo lured her into what seemed like a dream recording deal and then pressured her to party as he allegedly made “explicit” demands for sex. She alleged he ghosted her when she spurned his advances. Her deal was terminated without explanation on Sept. 6, 2022, she claims.

“This is super devastating for me. This is something I always wanted to do since I was a little girl. Jason was one of my favorite artists on the pop scene. I accept this amazing offer only to find out the person I looked up to would put me through such a traumatic situation,” Gibson previously told Rolling Stone.

“We are fully committed to defending Jason’s innocence against these blatantly false and baseless claims. If these false accusations are refiled in New York, we are confident that the New York court will ultimately dismiss the case and prove Jason’s innocence. The court was correct in dismissing the lawsuit in California,” Derulo’s legal team said in a statement sent to Rolling Stone.

In a video statement posted on his Instagram last October, Derulo called Gibson’s claims “completely false and hurtful.” The musician said he stood “against all forms of harassment” and remained “committed to supporting people following their dreams.”

“I’ve always strived to live my life in a positively impactful way, and that’s why I sit here before you deeply offended by these defamatory claims,” he said.

Gibson’s complaint named Atlantic Records as a co-defendant. Atlantic was represented by Derulo’s lawyer Echavarria at the hearing Tuesday and was a party to the dismissal decision.

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