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Lil Peep negligence case to proceed to trial

By | Published on Thursday 17 February 2022

Lil Peep

An LA judge has declined to dismiss the negligence and wrongful death claims made by the mother of the late rapper Lil Peep against her son’s former management company First Access Entertainment. Lawyers for the management firm had argued that those claims were too weak to proceed to trial, but judge Teresa A Beaudet does not concur.

Lil Peep, real name Gustav Åhr, died in November 2017 of an accidental drugs overdose, aged 21. His mother, Liza Womack, sued First Access in 2019 accusing the company and its associates of negligence and other breaches of contract that contributed to her son’s death. The management firm, she claimed, “allowed, normalised, and even encouraged and promoted” drug taking on her son’s tours, despite being aware of his addiction issues.

First Access has denied many of the specific allegations made in Womack’s lawsuit, although in its formal response to the litigation mainly focused on legal issues, arguing that both the negligence and breach of contract claims in Womack’s legal filing failed as a matter of law.

As the case proceeded, as well as seeking to have the negligence and wrongful death claims dismissed entirely, the management firm also sought to have some of the evidence gathered in relation to the case sealed or declared inadmissible.

Nearly 400 pages of evidence was published by the court last month, including seven pages First Access had specifically requested not be made public. Among other things, those pages documented WhatsApp messages from tour manager Belinda Mercer which were sent while she was on tour with Åhr just weeks before his death. The messages documented how she had been detained at the Canadian border because illegal substances had been found in her bag.

According to Rolling Stone, in terms of the evidence First Access wanted the judge to rule inadmissible, a statement from musician Cold Hart – real name Jerick Quilisadio and a member of the emo-rap collective Gothboiclique – has proven particularly controversial.

In that statement, he claims that when touring with Åhr in November 2017 he saw Mercer provide and supply “Xanax, cocaine, marijuana, Percocet and ketamine” to “those traveling on the tour bus”. He also alleges that Åhr’s managers advised the rapper make “himself sick from taking a bunch of Xanax” so he could trigger “an insurance claim and not lose money” on a show he wanted to cancel.

Beaudet did concur with First Access that the latter claim was mere hearsay – because Quilisadio had not personally witnessed anyone providing that advice to Åhr – and therefore that specific claim is not admissible. However, his other claims can stay on the record.

All the admissible evidence together, Beaudet, concluded this week, means that there is a sufficient case for the defendants to answer for the negligence and wrongful death claims to go before a jury. Which means the case continues, with a trial date currently set for March 2023.

However, one of the defendants in Womack’s lawsuit was removed from the case, that being Åhr’s co-manager Bryant ‘Chase’ Ortega. Beaudet concluded that there was no evidence that Ortega specifically “directed” any of the alleged negligence that occurred on the rapper’s tour.