Lil Peep’s mother Liza Womack claims her late son’s music label is refusing to pay a whopping $4 million owed to his estate — and that it’s all part of a “transparent” attempt to stymie her wrongful death and business lawsuit against the company and its top boss. The label, First Access Entertainment, disputed the allegation at a court hearing Tuesday, saying the emo rapper’s mom is the one to blame for any delay.
“FAE is trying to choke off her funds by denying her her royalty revenue that they know she’s owed,” Womack’s lawyer, Paul A. Matiasic, said Tuesday in open court in Los Angeles. Matiasic says the $4 million overdue to his client is royalty revenue from Peep’s music that FAE allegedly “admitted” it owes the estate. He also claims his client’s relationship with FAE is woefully “dysfunctional” and in need of court intervention as the parties try to work together on Peep’s musical legacy while engaging in a legal war over his death and intellectual property.
“It’s not true that it’s dysfunctional,” FAE’s lawyer John W. Amberg told the court. “It also is not true that FAE owes the estate over $4 million. That’s simply not true. That’s just an argument used to gain someone’s sympathy here.”
Peep, whose real name was Gustav Elijah Åhr, died November 15th, 2017, in the back of a tour bus in Tucson, Arizona, on the second-to-last stop of his doomed North American tour. His autopsy revealed lethal levels of fentanyl and Xanax in his system.
Though FAE has called the death a “self-inflicted drug overdose” from “street drugs he obtained from unknown sources,” Womack filed her wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles in October 2019. Her filing came seven months after Rolling Stone published an exhaustive investigation that pieced together the culture of drug-fueled disarray that permeated her son’s Come Over When You’re Sober tour and final days.
The lawsuit brought multiple allegations against FAE, tour manager Belinda Mercer, and others, including breach of contract and “negligence, carelessness, recklessness, and wrongdoing” that allegedly led to Åhr’s death. Womack claims 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.”
“Defendants ignored these cries for help and instead, pushed [him] onto stage after stage in city after city, plying and propping [him] up with illegal drugs and unprescribed controlled substances all along the way,” the suit states.
A trial in the case was supposed to begin in November, but the start date was pushed back this summer after FAE counter-sued Womack for selling merchandise bearing her son’s name without its consent. That move set the stage for Womack to file her own cross-complaint in March claiming 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’s legacy.”
Womack and her lawyer are now pushing to sever the business claims from the wrongful death claims so the former can be heard on a faster timetable. FAE opposes the action. According to Amberg, Womack is the one causing issues in the business relationship because FAE can’t “close” its books while she’s allegedly selling merchandise and brokering outside deals. He says there is no emergency that requires a speedier trial for the business dispute.
Womack’s lawyer disagrees. “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,” Matiasic argued at the hearing Tuesday.
“It does seem to me that there is merit in getting the business issues resolved,” Judge Teresa A. Beaudet said. “It’s going to take a while to deal with the [wrongful death] tort case. We’re just trying to improve upon the delay that’s going to be inevitable so the parties aren’t stepping on each other in the business world.”
Judge Beaudet ended the Tuesday hearing telling Womack’s lawyer that if he wants the court to divide the case into separate components, he must prepare a motion by the next hearing date of October 12th.