Date
23 October 2017
A trial over Sumner Redstone's mental competence came to an abrupt end as a California judge threw out a case brought by the 92-year-old media mogul's former girlfriend. Photo: Reuters
A trial over Sumner Redstone's mental competence came to an abrupt end as a California judge threw out a case brought by the 92-year-old media mogul's former girlfriend. Photo: Reuters

Judge dismisses mental competency case vs Sumner Redstone

A Los Angeles judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the mental competency of media mogul Sumner Redstone, marking a victory for the 92-year-old billionaire who had been locked in a battle with a former girlfriend.

On Monday, Judge David Cowan, citing blunt videotaped testimony from Redstone, threw out a case brought by Manuela Herzer challenging her removal from the tycoon’s healthcare directive, Reuters reported.

“Redstone’s testimony has ultimately defeated her case,” Cowan was quoted as saying in a 17-page ruling that abruptly ended the lawsuit brought by Herzer, an ex-companion of Redstone.

The quick end to a months-long and at times salacious legal drama was a clear victory for Redstone and his daughter Shari over who should handle the mogul’s medical decisions, the report noted.

If Herzer, 52, had proved her case, it could have triggered a chain of events that would result in the transfer of Redstone’s controlling stake in media giants Viacom and CBS Corp to a seven-person trust.

Monday’s decision did not address Redstone’s ability to handle business matters at the two firms, where he controls roughly 80 percent of voting shares.

Any challenge to his competency to manage his shares would need to come from the trust.

The transfer of his shares to the trust is scheduled to take place upon his death unless he is found to be incompetent to manage them prior to that.

Redstone struggled to speak when questioned by attorneys for Herzer as part of her lawsuit, a transcript of his testimony shows, and a medical expert hired by Herzer said he believes the mogul suffers from moderate dementia.

Herzer’s attorneys say she plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

Separately, Herzer filed a new lawsuit on Monday asking for at least US$70 million in damages from Shari Redstone and Sumner Redstone’s nurses, alleging they interfered with her expected inheritance and invaded her privacy.

Redstone, in a statement, called Herzer’s new lawsuit “total fiction”.

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FL/RC

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