The much-watched health care lawsuit from Sumner Redstone’s ex-companion Manuela Herzer will go to trial, as the motion to dismiss by Redstone’s legal team was denied without prejudice this morning. After claims from Herzer’s team that Redstone’s advanced age and declining health require minimal delay, the trial was scheduled for May 6-12. “The court waives normal discovery and cutoff dates in light of the age of Mr. Redstone,” said Judge David Cowan.
Herzer’s motion to strike Supplemental Declarations filed in support of the motion to dismiss also was denied.
Today’s hearing in the ongoing health care dispute between the media mogul and his ex comes after Viacom executive chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman was ordered to sit for a deposition in the case and a flurry of barbed filings late last week by both sides staking out more ground in this legal trench warfare.
Herzer had charge of Redstone’s health decisions up until last fall, when she was booted out of his Beverly Hills mansion and replaced in the responsibilities by Dauman – who lives in NYC. Besides the high-profile Redstone, this case has lurking implications for seniors all over California in terms of how and when they make their health care decisions and directives.
Of course, many of those seniors, regardless of what their capacity is or who is influencing them or not, don’t have the kind of big bucks that this case has in the not-so-distant background.
Before falling into disfavor with Redstone, Herzer looked to gain $50 million in cash and her ex’s $20 million mansion in his will. A windfall she has said has nothing to do with the case and one she will not be receiving now due to a change in paperwork.“This is a pre-death trust contest dressed up as a health care litigation,” Redstone’s lawyers said February 9.
When Herzer attorneys Bert Fields and Pierce O’Donnell at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP first went to court last fall, Herzer alleged that Redstone was a “living ghost” not capable of deciding to make a change to his health care directive or any other document nor attend to his corporate responsibilities. Since then both sides have fought in court and in the press to gain traction on a multitude of fronts such as depositions, examinations and documentation.
After submitting to a court ordered medical examination by a doctor of Herzer’s in late January, Redstone resigned from his position as executive chairman at CBS on February 3, with Les Moonves replacing him very soon afterward in a clear attempt to avoid any further corporate controversy. The next day Redstone dropped being executive chairman of Viacom with Dauman voted in to the job by the board over the clear objections of Sheri Redstone.
Also before Judge Cowan was an opposition to seal records filed by Deadline’s sister publication Variety and other media outlets. A hearing on that has been scheduled for March 18. They have cited a constitutional right to publicly filed documents and the right to know of the public and CBS and Viacom shareholders. The media outlets were asking the judge to either remove the widely applied seal on the material in the case or at least claw it back from the near blanket that Redstone’s lawyers have sought in various motions over the past several weeks.