Liza Womack, Lil Peep's mother, is suing his management team over the rapper’s 2017 death from a drug overdose. The New York Times was the first to report the story.
Womack filed suit against First Access Entertainment, the company run by Sarah Stennett, First Access Entertainment’s chief executive, and partner Len Blavatnik for negligence, breach of contract and fiduciary duty, and wrongful death. Others named in the suit are management team member Bryant “Chase” Ortega and Belinda Mercer, the tour manager on Lil Peep’s final tour. Womack claims that her son, whose real name was Gustav Elijah Ahr, was the victim of a team that promoted and encouraged drug use as a way to “control” Lil Peep and his career.
The lawsuit, obtained by Refinery29, alleges that Stennett provided Lil Peep with drugs on multiple occasions, including an instance in which she gifted him a bottle of pills during a dinner. Stennett denied giving Lil Peep drugs and claimed she voiced her disapproval of his drug use to the musician.
“I said [to Lil Peep], ‘Look, I’m not here to chastise you for taking drugs — that’s not my job. What I can tell you is it’s very hard to reach your potential if you’re a drug user,’” Stennett told Rolling Stone.
Text messages from Ortega to Lil Peep that allude to Stennett providing Lil Peep with drugs are outlined in the suit.
“Cool for [s]arah to call you?" a message reads. "She’s about to get to NYC. Also she has canal for u lol." Ortega allegedly then corrected the message and said "*xanax."
It also alleges that Mercer provided Lil Peep with drugs, including ketamine, and that she and Lil Peep were in a sexual relationship during his tour. At a show in Texas, Mercer is said to have recommended that Lil Peep “take an excessive amount of Xanax so as to make himself sick” to not have to perform.
Lil Peep was "barely able to communicate, let alone perform, due to his use of drugs" on his last stop on the Peep Show Tour in Los Angeles, the suit says, adding that "despite [Lil Peep's] comatose-like state and the fact that he was in clear medical distress, Defendants nonetheless allowed him to go on stage to perform without any intervention, medical or otherwise."
On the night Lil Peep died in Arizona, the suit alleges Mercer saw “that [Lil Peep] looked alarmingly unwell, but rather than seeking help or contacting authorities, Mercer instead elected to run a personal errand.”
Ortega claimed to be aware of Lil Peep’s drug issues when he broke the news of his death on Twitter.
“I’ve been expecting this call for a year. Mother fuck,” Ortega tweeted from his protected Twitter account. That tweet is also noted in the lawsuit.
Lil Peep was a rising emo/hip hop star who got his start on Soundcloud before signing with Stennett in 2016. Lil Peep died on his tour bus on November 15, 2017, of an accidental overdose of fentanyl and generic Xanax, according to the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner.
Paul A. Matiasic, Womack’s lawyer, told the New York Times that while Lil Peep did have a role in his death, “in evaluating the legal responsibility for someone’s untimely death, it is not a binary decision.” This means that a court could find the management team a certain percentage responsible for Lil Peep’s death, if not entirely to blame.
“This is something that I must do as a mother,” Womack said in an interview with The New York Times. “I feel very concerned that [other young artists] not be exploited...What Gus had to live through is actually horrifying to me, and I’m sure he’s not the only person his age in this situation.”
Lil Peep is just one high profile case of a musician dying of a fentanyl-related overdose. Mac Miller was found dead in September of 2018 of an accidental overdose. An investigation into who may have provided the artist with fentanyl-laced pills is ongoing.
Refinery29 contacted First Access Entertainment and Matiasic for comment.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.