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Lil Peep’s mother argues that newly unsealed evidence proves management’s negligence in relation to rapper’s death

By | Published on Friday 11 February 2022

Lil Peep

Liza Womack, the mother of rapper Lil Peep – who died of a drug overdose while on tour in 2017 – says that newly unsealed documents prove that her son’s management company, First Access Artists, should be help liable for his death.

A collection of evidence spanning nearly 400 pages was published by the Los Angeles Superior Court last month, after First Access unsuccessfully argued for seven pages of that evidence to be sealed.

The seven pages included text messages from 2017 that were sent by tour manager Belinda Mercer to colleagues after she was found with illegal substances in her bag when Peep’s tour bus was stopped at the Canadian border weeks before his death.

Womack and her legal team argue that these texts, and other newly published evidence, support their claim that the rapper was provided with and urged to take drugs by his team.

When First Access sought to keep some of the evidence sealed last October, Womack’s lawyers wrote in response, according to Pitchfork: “These seven pages help tell the story of the drug-infected mismanagement that is part of [Womack’s] central narrative and led to her son’s death. What these documents mostly contain are exchanges that reveal [First Access] tour management as dangerous, discordant, inept, and engaged in conduct that contributed to [Peep]’s death”.

Lil Peep, real name Gustav Åhr, died in November 2017 of an accidental drugs overdose, aged 21. In her 2019 lawsuit, Womack accused First Access and its associates of negligence and other breaches of contract that contributed to her son’s death.

She said that the management firm “allowed, normalised, and even encouraged and promoted” drug taking on her son’s tours, despite being aware of his addiction issues.

And, she also alleged, when Åhr told his management team that touring was making him ill, “defendants ignored these cries for help and instead pushed decedent onto stage after stage in city after city, plying and propping decedent up with illegal drugs and unprescribed controlled substances all along the way”.

While First Access denies many of the specific allegations contained in Womack’s lawsuit, its response to her legal filing in December 2019 focused more on matters of law than matters of fact.

Specifically, Womack’s claim that First Access and its associates are liable for the ‘tort’ of negligence fails, they argued, “because Mr Åhr’s relationship with [the company] was a business relationship governed by a contract that barred tort claims, and because these defendants did not owe an independent duty of care to Mr Åhr, breach such a duty, or cause his death”.

Meanwhile, the additional breach of contract claims “likewise fail as a matter of law”, the management firm added.

According to the newly published evidence, Mercer sent a WhatsApp message to a colleague after being detained at the Canadian border in 2017, saying that it was “the most mortifying experience of my life”. She later wrote: “Bottom line is that I am so sorry and embarrassed about it all … It was a huge mistake and will never happen again”.

In a deposition in September last year, Mercer was asked about her detention at the Canadian border and she confirmed that “illegal substances” had been found in her bag and elsewhere on the tour bus.

She also said that she had paid a $2000 fine, but did not specify the reason for this. And on a number of occasions, when asked about illegal drugs, she relied on her Fifth Amendment rights under the US constitution to decline to answer in order to avoid self-incrimination.

Nonetheless, in the deposition, she did confirm that Peep had asked her for drugs many times, and that they had texted about ketamin in October 2017.

However, she pleaded the Fifth when asked about Venmo payments sent to a man named Riley Fatch in November 2017, which were listed as being for “bus maintenance” and “bus restock”, despite Fatch not working for her or being a member of tour crew. Fatch was later arrested on drugs charges but died in 2019.

In a statement to Pitchfork about the recently published evidence – and attempts by the defence to seal some of it – an attorney for Womack, Paul Matiasic, said: “The vigour with which [First Access] and Mercer fought to shield this information from the public record speaks volumes as to the inculpatory nature of these text messages”.

Womack is pushing for a jury trial in the case. Meanwhile, First Access is seeking a summary judgement in its favour. At a hearing yesterday to consider this motion, the court said that it “will need additional time to consider the various filings in this case”, saying that a new date will be set to deliver a ruling.