Sides sue after Sumner Redstone’s health-care case tossed
The battle over the fortune of ailing media mogul Sumner Redstone shifted to a new front Monday after a judge threw out the case over his medical care and both sides targeted each other with new $100 million-plus lawsuits.
The 92-year-old who controls CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. clearly stated his intentions in videotaped testimony last week, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan ruled. Redstone said in a profanity-laced deposition that he wanted his daughter, Shari, to make medical decisions for him if he is incapacitated and that he no longer wanted former girlfriend Manuela Herzer in his life.
Herzer filed a petition last year contending that Redstone lacked the mental capacity to expel her from his home and could no longer make informed decisions. She said he was manipulated by his nursing staff and Shari Redstone.
Cowan didn't rule on Redstone's mental capacity or whether he suffered undue influence. He simply said the court didn't need to get involved once Redstone made his intentions clear.
The businessman has a serious speech impediment, relies on a feeding tube and requires 24-hour care, but his doctor has not declared him incapacitated.
Herzer's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, told reporters outside court that his client would appeal and file a new suit for $100 million -- this time against Shari Redstone for interfering with Herzer's expected inheritance and invasion of privacy. She alleges the daughter had set up a "spy network" using her father's nurses to help her dislodge Herzer from Sumner Redstone's life.
"It was an orchestrated, devious campaign to take over her father and his empire," O'Donnell said.
Shari Redstone said a statement Monday that she was grateful the court ended case.
"I am so happy for my father that he can now live his life in peace, surrounded by his friends and family," she said.
Sumner Redstone's legal team, which left the courtroom without speaking to reporters, said in a statement that it would now sue to reclaim $150 million Redstone gave Herzer and another former girlfriend, Sydney Holland.
"Ms. Herzer bet wrong when she assumed that Mr. Redstone's difficulty communicating would result in her reinstatement in his life and fortune," said his lawyer, Robert N. Klieger.
Redstone's attorneys sought to dismiss the case during the first day of a competency trial that began Friday.
Herzer's lawyers had argued that the judge should hear further testimony to keep Sumner Redstone's best interests in mind and consider whether his testimony -- in which he called Herzer an expletive and said he no longer loved her -- had been coached.
Redstone's attorneys noted that Herzer's medical expert, Dr. Stephen Read, acknowledged that Redstone understood what he was doing when he threw Herzer out of his life in October. Read also testified that he believed Redstone had a serious case of dementia.
The judge said Friday that Redstone's video testimony, which was recorded Thursday at his home, was compelling but asked attorneys for both sides to explain their best evidence in motions filed over the weekend. The video was sealed but a transcript was provided.
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