Lil Peep’s mother lost her bid Wednesday to break up her lawsuit against her late son’s record label and go after nearly $4 million in allegedly overdue royalties on a faster timetable than her wrongful death claims.
“The court is not able to find that bifurcation and/or severance would be appropriate or beneficial at this time,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Teresa Beaudet wrote in a tentative ruling adopted at a hearing Wednesday morning.
Liza Womack, executor of her son’s estate, had asked the court to sever and set an earlier trial date for her post-mortem business claims against First Access Entertainment amid ongoing delays with her larger wrongful death lawsuit against the label.
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She claimed her working relationship with FAE is so “dysfunctional” and “fraught with conflict” she needs immediate court intervention to resolve disagreements over who’s entitled to sell Lil Peep merchandise, who owns her son’s name and likeness, and what sums are owed.
In a sworn statement last month, she said FAE is withholding a whopping $3,903,129 in money owed to her son’s estate for seven quarterly accounting periods.
The judge said Wednesday that Womack is welcome to renew her motion for severed trials down the line, but she needs to convince the court that witness testimony wouldn’t overlap to the degree that isolated trials become a waste of resources.
Peep, whose real name was Gustav Elijah Åhr, died Nov. 15, 2017, on a tour bus in Tucson, Arizona, during one of the last stops on his ill-fated Come Over When You’re Sober tour. His autopsy revealed lethal levels of fentanyl and Xanax in his system.
In court filings, FAE called the death a “self-inflicted drug overdose” from “street drugs he obtained from unknown sources.”
In her wrongful death lawsuit filed in October 2019, Womack alleged FAE, tour manager Belinda Mercer, and others “encouraged and facilitated (the) drug-laden environment” that resulted in the tragic overdose. She said the defendants failed to do their jobs when her son actively expressed to them that he was “anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out, exhausted, and physically unwell.”
Womack’s lawsuit was filed seven months after Rolling Stone published an exhaustive investigation that pieced together the emo rapper’s final days.
A trial on Womack’s wrongful death claims case was previously set to begin in November, but the date was pushed back this summer amid wrangling over FAE’s counterclaims that Womack was selling merchandise bearing her son’s name without its consent. Womack counter-sued on the claims, alleging FAE and its boss Sarah Stennett “engaged in a cover-up” after Åhr’s death and “purposefully” withheld money while simultaneously trying to “deprive” Womack of “any ability to earn from Gus’ legacy.”
“The fact that we are not having our day in court [in November] is allowing FAE to continue to withhold money. We believe that they’re woefully undercapitalized, we believe they have co-mingled the funds that are due to the estate, and we are very concerned that they’re going to squander that money away,” Womack’s lawyer Paul Matiasic said at a hearing last month.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for FAE wrote in a recent filing that Peep’s estate collected nearly $5.9 million through September 2019 for “advance payments on certain contracts” brokered by the estate as well as various royalties and other receipts “related to the use and licensing of decedent’s intellectual property.”
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