Delaware judge rules in favour of late pop star Prince’s former business advisers in estate dispute

A Delaware judge has declined to throw out a lawsuit brought by former business advisers to the late pop music icon Prince against two of his siblings and other heirs in a dispute over his estate.
The judge also agreed with plaintiffs L Londell McMillan and Charles Spicer Jr that an agreement purportedly replacing them as managers of a limited liability company established by three siblings was invalid.
Prince passed away in 2016 from an accidental fentanyl overdose, leaving no will. His six siblings inherited equal shares in the estate. Three of them assigned their combined 50 per cent interest to Prince Legacy LLC and granted McMillan and Spicer each a 10 per cent interest in the company, along with extensive and exclusive management authority.
However, one sister, Sharon Nelson, later regretted the decision and spearheaded an effort to remove McMillan and Spicer as managing members by amending the LLC agreement.
Chancellor Kathaleen St Jude McCormick determined that the terms of the initial LLC agreement are unambiguous and prohibit the defendants’ attempts to amend it. She stated that the agreement remains in effect and McMillan and Spicer continue as managing members. “As a matter of contract law, this is the only reasonable interpretation,” the judge wrote.
McCormick also ruled that the plaintiffs can pursue a claim that the defendants breached the LLC agreement by acting without authorization to amend it and remove McMillan and Spicer.
The lawsuit arises from disagreements involving Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister, and five half-siblings: Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson, Omarr Baker, and Alfred Jackson. Tyka, Omarr, and Alfred sold their stake to a music publishing company called Primary Wave Music, LLC, which later assigned its interests to an affiliate, Prince OAT Holdings LLC. Alfred has since passed away.
The older siblings, Sharon, Norrine, and John, assigned 20 per cent of their collective interests to McMillan and Spicer before John’s death in 2021. His interests passed to a trust overseen by Breanna Nelson, Allen Nelson, and Johnny Nicholas Nelson Torres as co-trustees. Breanna and Allen are named as defendants in the lawsuit along with Sharon and Norrine, while Nelson Torres has sided with the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Sharon improperly tried to insert herself into management decisions and once demanded that the entire staff of the Paisley Park Museum in Minnesota be replaced. She also accused McMillan and Spicer of fraud and tried to sell her interests in Prince Legacy without the required consent of the other members. The lawsuit is part of a long and complex legal battle involving both the size and the beneficiaries of Prince’s estate. In 2022, nearly six years after his death, the Internal Revenue Service and the administrator of the estate agreed to end a court battle and value the estate at roughly $156 million.

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