Redstone legal drama could come to abrupt end

(Editor’s note: paragraph 5 contains language that may offend
some readers.)

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES May 9 A trial over Sumner
Redstone’s mental competence could end as early as Monday when a
California judge is expected to announce whether he will throw
out a lawsuit from the 92-year-old media mogul’s former
girlfriend.

In a legal brief prepared over the weekend, Redstone’s
attorneys argued that the case should be dismissed, saying their
client was competent and had made his wishes clear.

In a brief of their own, attorneys representing his
ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, argued that only a full trial
could determine whether Redstone was competent and urged the
judge to evaluate all the evidence “rather than looking at
Redstone’s testimony in a vacuum or in isolation.”

The new legal arguments came in response to a request from
Judge David Cowan, after a closed session on Friday, the opening
day of trial, in which he watched videotaped testimony from the
multibillionaire.

A transcript of the recording shows Redstone struggling to
answer some questions coherently. But he was exceptionally clear
about not wanting Herzer to play any role in his life, referring
to her repeatedly as a “fucking bitch.”

Cowan called Redstone’s testimony “strong evidence,” and
said he would consider over the weekend whether to grant a
request by Redstone’s attorneys to toss out the case. He asked
both sides to prepare legal briefs laying out their positions on
why the case should or shouldn’t be dismissed.

Herzer, 52, contends Redstone, the controlling shareholder
of Viacom Inc and CBS Corp, was not mentally
competent when he removed her as his designated healthcare agent
last October.

“Does he know what he’s doing? That’s what I’m wrestling
with,” Cowan said.

Herzer earned Redstone’s animosity, the new Redstone brief
contends, by filing “a petition full of needlessly salacious
allegations about Mr. Redstone’s private affairs” thereby making
“the most intimate details of Mr. Redstone’s life and medical
condition” fodder for national media coverage.

Herzer’s attorneys assert in their filing that Redstone was
unduly influenced and lacked capacity to make an independent
decision. His care-givers were “a den of spies and
co-conspirators of Shari Redstone,” the filing argues, “all
working together to remove Herzer and take control of Redstone
for their own financially-motivated (and sometimes competing)
reasons.”

Herzer’s attorneys presented testimony on Friday from
geriatric psychiatrist Stephen Read, who said that Redstone had
dementia.

Read said he examined Redstone earlier this year on Herzer’s
behalf. Among other tasks, Read said he asked Redstone to
identify colored shapes.

“He did very poorly,” Read said, pointing at a green square
when asked to point to a blue star. Read also said that Redstone
has “uncontrollable outbursts of anger,” which interfere with
his ability to reason.

If the case goes forward, the judge will hear on Monday from
Keryn Redstone, a granddaughter of the mogul who is siding with
Herzer. In court filings, 34-year-old Keryn Redstone said her
grandfather had become a “prisoner in his own home” after Herzer
was suddenly ejected from the mansion in October.

When she last saw her grandfather in February, “he just sat
there, staring into space,” Keryn Redstone said.

A month ago, the two sides had reached a preliminary
settlement agreement that would have awarded Herzer about $30
million, according to a source familiar with the matter. Those
talks fell apart and the case proceeded to trial.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; editing by Sue Horton, G Crosse)

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.reuters.com/article/viacom-redstone-idUSL2N18401M

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