A judge has upheld Lil Peep‘s mother’s claims of wrongful death and negligence against her late son’s record label First Access Entertainment (FAE) and tour manager Belinda Mercer.
Teresa A. Beaudet has rejected FAE’s request to dismiss the claims on the grounds that Liza Kathryn Womack, who is also the executor of her son’s estate, failed to show any “causal connection” between FAE’s alleged negligence and Peep’s overdose from fentanyl and Xanax on a tour bus in 2017.
Rolling Stone reports that Beaudet ruled at a court hearing in Los Angeles yesterday (February 17) that Womack’s case still stands, which is also due to providing other viable reasons for lodging such claims.
These include that no one on the bus was trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of an overdose, the bus was not equipped with a defibrillator, Narcan or any other “life-saving apparatuses” for overdoses, and that no one on the bus gave Peep a life-saving aid.
The judge added that while she agreed with FAE that sections of a highly damaging statement from Peep’s fellow musician Cold Hart were indeed inadmissible hearsay in the civil case, the court’s decision to pare down Hart’s statement submitted in 2021 wasn’t enough to scrap the wrongful death lawsuit first filed by Womack in 2019.
In Cold Hart’s disputed statement, he testified that he was travelling with Peep for the rapper’s ‘Come Over When You’re Sober’ tour from November 8, 2017 until the rapper’s death on November 15, 2017. Hart alleged that “throughout” that duration Belinda Mercer, the tour manager hired by FAE, “provided and supplied Xanax, cocaine, marijuana, Percocet, and ketamine” to “those traveling on the tour bus”.
Beaudet upheld a substantial amount of Hart’s allegations in her latest ruling, but cast doubt on a section of the statement in which Hart, whose real name is Jerick Quilisadio, claimed that on November 14, 2017 Peep’s managers told the rapper he should make “himself sick from taking a bunch of Xanax” so he could trigger “an insurance claim and not lose money” on a show he wished to cancel.
FAE argued that Quilisadio had failed to state that he personally witnessed someone directing Peep to take the “excessive” amount of Xanax, so the statement was hearsay, which judge Beaudet agreed with.
“There’s no question there’s a triable issue as to whether (Mercer) provided the drugs or not,” Judge Beaudet said during the hearing. “If you’re going to create an environment like that where drugs are flowing, and you’re providing it, and hey, you actually don’t have any life-saving device or any Narcan to help people who are going to have a problem with these drugs, it seems to me you are creating a very dangerous situation there.”
She added that while “there’s actually no evidence” Mercer provided any fentanyl, the rapper “somehow got fentanyl”. It may be left to a jury to decide whether Mercer unknowingly supplied a drug “that might be laced with fentanyl”, Beaudet added.
“I’m not saying that’s what happened, but that’s what (Womack alleges),” the judge explained. “The fact (that defendants) didn’t give the decedent adequate protection for that environment, I think that could add up to causation here.”
FAE denied the allegations after the lawsuit first went public, saying that the claim that it was “somehow responsible for, complicit in, or contributed to [Peep’s] death is categorically untrue”. The label then claimed Peep’s death was “self-inflicted” and said that they couldn’t be responsible for Womack’s “adult son’s risky behaviour”.
Before the end of Wednesday’s hearing, FAE’s lawyer John Amberg again pressed that Womack’s negligence and wrongful death claims were inadequate because she presented no smoking gun linking FAE “agents” to the actual drugs that killed Peep.
“They failed to make that case. They failed,” said Amberg, to which Beaudet replied: “No, sir, I don’t agree with that. They have established that drugs were provided to him. They didn’t stop at the 24-hour period.”
Tour manager Mercer admitted in a deposition last year that authorities found “three” illegal substances on the bus, both in the common area of the touring vehicle and in one of her bags in her bunk.
She said that she couldn’t remember what the substances were exactly but stressed she wasn’t “arrested,” only detained, and that the $2,000 she ended up paying to gain release was “a bus fine” that she put on her credit card and never expensed.
Mercer also claimed during her deposition that Peep repeatedly asked her to supply drugs. She then invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked multiple questions about whether or not she provided Peep with drugs prior to November 5, 2017.
When Mercer was shown October 2017 text messages in which she allegedly asked the rapper, “How many blue?” and Peep wrote to her, “Perc, please”, allegedly referring to the drug Percocet, Mercer pleaded the Fifth.
Despite Womack’s success on Wednesday, Judge Beaudet dismissed another part of her suit in which she alleged negligence and wrongful death against Peep’s co-manager, Bryant “Chase” Ortega. Beaudet said that Womack failed to present sufficient evidence that Ortega “directed” any of the alleged negligence on the tour bus leading up to Peep’s overdose.
Womack also claimed last year that she’s owed $4million (£3million) by the late rapper’s record label, and that they’re refusing to pay. FAE denies owing Womack the money. The case in ongoing.