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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Brakes Applied in Sumner Redstone Competency Fight

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A probate judge ruled on Monday that there is no need to rush a challenge of the competency of Viacom executive Sumner Redstone's decision to strip his companion of the authority to make health care decisions for him.

Judge Clifford Klein found that on the based on court records, Redstone appears to be receiving quality health care and does not have a life-threatening or critical condition.

Petitioner Manuela Herzer sought a declaration to set a hearing on petition in 15 days and take short-notice depositions. She also asked Klein to order a medical examination of Redstone and prescribe him health care.

"I do not find there was any urgency," Klein said.

The judge ordered a continuance on a motion to dismiss the case filed by Redstone's lawyers, which the court is scheduled to hear in January.

Herzer filed a petition in the Los Angeles County Superior Court last week arguing that the 92-year-old owner of CBS and Viacom was incapacitated when he revoked a Sept. 3, 2015 advance health directive.

According to Herzer, Redstone - who is worth more than $5 billion - was under the "undue influence" of his estate planning attorney Leah Bishop. Bishop threw Herzer out of Redstone's residence in Los Angeles and told Herzer that Redstone had created a new health care directive on Oct 16.

Herzer describes herself as the ailing Viacom executive's "longtime friend, companion and caretaker" and says she moved into Redstone's home more than two years ago. She began to take care of his medical care needs earlier this year after his relationship with Sydney Holland, his girlfriend of five years, came to an end, she says.

Herzer's lawyer Pierce O'Donnell of Greenberg Glusker urged the court to allow him to depose Redstone and his doctor to determine his condition at the time he revoked the directive.

Loeb & Loeb attorney Gabrielle Vidal told the court the magnate is capable of making his own health care decisions.

"That's disputed," O'Donnell shot back.

The petition says that Redstone is a "tragic figure in the waning days of an accomplished life" whose health had deteriorated and has become a "living ghost" since Holland left.

According to Herzer, Redstone no longer speaks clearly, requires around-the-clock nursing care and a tube to eat and drink. He is "obsessed with eating steak" and "demands, to the extent he can be understood, to engage in sexual activity every day," according to Herzer.

She claims the magnate has become disconnected from his interests including his tropical fish collection, "a subject in which he used to take great pride and interest."

"In sum, the combination of organic neurological damage resulting from the aspirations and pneumonia, and the emotional and psychiatric issues exacerbated by the traumatic break-up of his long-term relationship with Ms. Holland, has decimated Mr. Redstone's cognitive abilities and incapacitated him," the 20-page petition states.

Herzer wants the September directive to remain in effect, in addition to a ruling that Redstone is unable to make his own medical decisions.

She also wants the court to reinstate her as Redstone's health care agent and allow her to manage his medical care.

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