Beyond the issue of whether his management team facilitated his drug use, to win the case Womack may need to convince a jury that the team did so purposefully, or at least that it had a duty to look out for his welfare and did not adequately do so.
Paul A. Matiasic, a lawyer for Womack, Lil Peep’s mother, said, “We acknowledge, obviously, that Gus had a role” in his own death. However, “In evaluating the legal responsibility for someone’s untimely death, it is not a binary decision,” he added, noting that juries in California could assign fault as they see appropriate. (For example, if a plaintiff is 50 percent responsible for their own injury, but the defendant is 50 percent responsible, the plaintiff can recover 50 percent of their damages from the defendant.)
FAE “had the power, they had the influence and control over Gus’s career, and specifically this tour,” Matiasic said. “There are duties associated with having that type of control.”
Gregory C. Keating, a torts professor at the University of Southern California, said that while allegations of record companies providing drugs to rock stars date back decades, and could be seen as a “common practice in a freewheeling industry,” that doesn’t mean an entertainment company could not be held liable.
“It’s a plausible complaint, because a court could reasonably decide that by providing a person with an addiction with prescription medication and illegal substances, they endangered his life, and that brought responsibility upon themselves,” he said.
“They would argue that they had no duty to protect him,” he continued, “but if you supply him and you know he’s got an addiction problem, that could trigger the application of a duty. This person is under your control to some extent, and you’re actually enabling them by doing things that you’re not authorized to do.”