Music

Prince Estate Lawsuit: Judge Sides With Advisors In Legal Battle Against Pop Icon’s Heirs

Prince’s former business advisors have won a key ruling in their ongoing legal battle with three of the pop legend’s heirs over the management of his estate.

In a decision issued Friday, a Delaware judge ruled that advisors L. Londell McMillan and Charles Spicer Jr. could not be ousted as mangers of Prince Legacy LLC, a company created to operate half of Prince’s lucrative estate.

Three of Prince’s heirs, led by his sister Sharon Nelson, had argued they could amend the LLC agreement to remove McMillan and Spicer from their leadership positions, but the judge ruled that such efforts were clearly invalid under the terms of the agreement.

“The LLC agreement is unambiguous and [McMillan and Spicer]’s interpretation is the only reasonable one,” Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick wrote in the decision, which was obtained by Billboard.

Ruling that Prince’s heirs had vested the two advisors with “broad and exclusive management authority,” the judge said they could not now amend their agreement simply because they “came to regret this decision.”

Neither side immediately returned a request for comment from Billboard.

Prince had no will when he died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016, leaving six heirs to inherit equal shares in his valuable estate and sparking a long legal battle in Minnesota probate court over how the estate would be managed in the future.

When the court case finally wrapped up in August 2022, the estate was split into two companies – one controlled by Primary Wave after it purchased the shares of three heirs, and another (Prince Legacy) controlled by McMillan, Spicer and the three remaining relatives. At the time, both sides vowed to work together to bring Prince’s music and legacy to a new generation of music fans.

But in January, McMillan and Spicer sued their partners within Prince Legacy, claiming Nelson and other heirs were improperly trying to force them out as managers and “install themselves” in their place. McMillan and Spicer claimed Nelson had become “disgruntled” because they had refused to comply with her “unreasonable demands. They cited one incident in which she allegedly attempted “replace the entire staff” of Prince’s legendary Paisley Park home “with individuals of her choosing.”

The lawsuit argued that the efforts to oust McMillan and Spicer were not only barred by Prince Legacy’s operating agreement, but also posed a threat to their efforts “to preserve and protect Prince’s legacy.”

“The individual defendants lack any business and management experience, have no experience in the music and entertainment industries, and have no experience negotiating and managing high-level deals in the entertainment industry,” attorneys for McMillan and Spicer wrote at the time. “They have a documented history of infighting. Based on the amount and complexity of the work that Prince Legacy is involved with, they are simply not capable of stepping in and managing its business.”

In Friday’s decision, McCormick sided decisively with McMillan and Spicer, granting them summary judgment on their core allegation: That Nelson’s effort to amend the LLC agreement had been invalid under terms of the deal.

“Defendants’ interpretation … would lead to the absurd result of giving the non-managing members the authority to unilaterally take actions on behalf of the company and bind the company without the approval of the managing members,” the judge wrote in her ruling.

The decision will not end the lawsuit, because McCormick also ruled that McMillan and Spicer could to pursue their related allegation that Nelson and the other heirs had breached that contract when they attempted to amend the LLC agreement. That claim will be subject to future litigation.

Primary Wave, which controls the other half of Prince’s estate, is not involved in the litigation nor accused of any wrongdoing.

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