UPDATE, 12:34 PM: A L.A. Superior Court judge has granted a December 21 hearing on Sumner Redstone’s ex-companion’s latest hard-hitting legal petition. Decided this morning, the procedural victory for Manuela Herzer shifts the goal posts set on November 30 by Judge Clifford Klein that had effectively halted any movement in the case to early next year.
“We came to court today for permission to take the testimony under oath of Sumner Redstone, his two doctors and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman,” said attorney Pierce O’Donnell after the new hearing date was set. Herzer’s lawyers obviously didn’t get the permission that they wanted right away but they could next week. “We are only asking for seven hours of depositions. Yet continuing their campaign to conceal the truth, the Loeb & Loeb defense lawyers tried but failed today to shut us down. We have presented overwhelming evidence that Mr. Redstone lacks capacity to make health care decisions. Someone forged Mr. Redstone’s signature on a document presented to the court. We are absolutely entitled to discovery and are determined to expose the truth. We’re very pleased that Judge David Cowan has scheduled a hearing on this matter next Monday at 1:30 pm.”
If Judge Cowan agrees or not in the hearing next week that Redstone needs to urgently be examined and/or give a deposition, then it could lead to either the Viacom chief, CEO Dauman and the media giant’s stock having either a very good or very bad Christmas – to put it mildly.
PREVIOUS, 11:10 AM: Just two weeks after a judge hit the brakes on her desire for emergency legal action, Manuela Herzer is back in court today with a plethora of new allegations concerning the health of Sumner Redstone. Among the claims by Redstone’s former companion and health agent’s in a new 200-page filing this weekend are that the scratchy signature on recent documents is a fake and that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s sworn statements about the Viacom founder’s capacity are “riddled with falsehoods.”
Claims that Redstone’s lawyers Gabrielle Vidal, Amy Koch and David Hodge strongly contest in paperwork they filed before a hearing set for this morning and currently underway. “Bottom line, there is no reason for the parties to be back in Court,” the Loeb & Loeb attorneys say in today’s opposition filing (read it here) to Herzer’s new ex parte application for discovery.
Herzer’s lawyers Bert Fields and Pierce O’Donnell of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP want urgent depositions from Redstone and others as well as extensive medical examinations of the Viacom chief. This is very similar to the requests L.A. Superior Court Judge Clifford Klein put the urgency pin back in the grenade of Herzer’s initial petition in late November. Right now, a further hearing on the case, potential discovery and a motion to dismiss is set for January 27 – obviously longer that Herzer wanted to wait.
“Strip away the patina of celebrity, and what we have here is an abuse of the Court’s valuable time and resources by a self-interested litigant intent on disturbing the peace of a 92-year-old man,” today’s 12-page opposition adds, also noting Herzer’s desire to get in front of the courts before the motion to dismissed is filed on January 4. “This transparent request for a do-over of the November 30, 2015, hearing must be rejected.”
Redstone’s lawyers previously have stated in filings and in court that they believe Herzer’s efforts are not about the mogul’s health and well-being but a tactical move for money once he passes away. That’s something Herzer, who was booted out of Villa Redstone in mid-October, actually addressed and rejected in her latest filing, stating that Redstone already has gifted her “tens of millions of dollars” and she doesn’t need the dough.
Herzer claims that Dauman, who replaced the former companion as Redstone’s health care agent on October 16, has perpetrated a fraud on the Viacom board and others. Present for an early October meeting between Redstone and himself that the Viacom CEO noted in a recent declaration, Herzer says Dauman “inaccurately and misleadingly” depicted a conversation that did not occurred – because, according to Herzer, Redstone is incapable of such interaction. Herzer also says that Viacom distributed praise that Redstone supposedly heaped on Dauman was actually penned by Dauman himself – from his own email.
In the potentially explosive claim that Redstone’s signature to a document allowing Herzer back into his home to pick up certain personal possessions was faked, Vidal herself calls foul. “But to be clear, the contract was not forged, and the suggestion that Loeb & Loeb LLP perpetrated a fraud on this Court is offensive in the extreme and absolutely false,” according to footnotes in today’s filing by Redstone’s lawyers. “Mr. Redstone’ s counsel, Gabrielle Vidal, brought the contract to Mr. Redstone and watched him sign it.”
We’ll update later with the results of today’s hearing.