Delaware judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit in battle over late pop icon Prince’s estate

Prince fans were treated to a special treat during the 40th anniversary celebrations.

A Delaware judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former business advisers to the late pop icon Prince against two of his brothers and other heirs in a dispute over his estate.

The judge on Friday also agreed with plaintiffs L. Lundell McMillan and Charles Spicer Jr. that an agreement to replace them as managers of a limited liability company founded by three brothers was invalid.

The prince died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016. He had no will, and his six siblings inherited equal shares of the estate.

Three of them gave up their combined 50% stake to Prince Legacy LLC. They also gave McMillan and Spicer a 10% stake each in Prince Legacy, along with broad and exclusive management authority.

One of the sisters, Sharon Nelson, later expressed regret over the decision and led efforts to remove McMillan and Spicer from their positions as managing directors by amending the LLC agreement.

Counsel Kathleen St. Jude McCormick ruled that the terms of the initial LLC agreement were unambiguous and barred the defendants from trying to amend it. She said the agreement remains in effect and that McMillan and Spicer remain managing directors.

“As a matter of contract law, this is the only reasonable explanation,” the judge wrote.

Prince fans flock to Minneapolis to celebrate 40th anniversary of ‘Purple Rain’

McCormick also ruled that the plaintiffs could pursue a claim that the defendants violated the LLC agreement by acting without permission to amend it and remove McMillan and Spicer.

The lawsuit stems from disputes between the prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings: Sharon Nelson, Noreen Nelson, John R. Nelson, Omar Baker, and Alfred Jackson.

Tika, Omar, and Alfred, the youngest of the three, sold their shares to a music publishing company called Primary Wave Music, LLC, which later transferred its shares to a subsidiary, Prince OAT Holdings LLC. Alfred has since passed away.

The older siblings, Sharon, Noreen and John, transferred 20% of their collective interests to McMillan and Spicer before John’s death in 2021. His interests were transferred to a trust overseen by Brianna Nelson, Allen Nelson and Johnny Nicholas Nelson Torres as co-trustees. Brianna and Allen are named as defendants in the lawsuit alongside Sharon and Noreen, while Nelson Torres sided with the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Sharon improperly tried to interfere with management decisions, once demanding that the entire staff of the Paisley Park Museum in Minnesota be replaced. It also accuses McMillan and Spicer of fraud and trying to sell her shares in Prince Legacy without getting the required approval from other members.

The lawsuit is part of a long and complex legal battle over the size and beneficiaries of the prince’s estate. In 2022, nearly six years after his death, the Internal Revenue Service and the estate administrator agreed to end a legal battle and value the estate at about $156 million.

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