Medical records for the ailing, 92-year-old Viacom and CBS Chairman Emeritus Sumner Redstone can remain private after a Superior Court judge in Los Angeles ruled today that they are not sufficiently newsworthy to overcome a right to privacy.
The tentative decision rejected arguments from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times that the medical records should be unsealed in a case from Redstone’s ex-companion Manuela Herzer.
She’s challenging the media mogul’s competence to have Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman replace her last year in overseeing Redstone’s health care. Herzer described Redstone as a “living ghost.”
The news organizations said that the public — including employees and shareholders of Viacom and CBS — have a right to know Redstone’s condition. He controls 80% of the voting shares of both companies.
Judge David Cowan concluded that since the medical records being sought involved a court-ordered examination, it isn’t “appropriate to make public what would otherwise be confidential if it had been performed by his own physician.”
He added that “it is an affront to people’s dignity and privacy, of whatever age, to have to make public their health problems that stand in the way of how they want to present themselves in public….This case is about only how Redstone chooses to look after himself in the privacy of his own home. That someone has an important position as a business executive does not mean he or she thereby forfeits rights to privacy.”
Herzer’s case is scheduled to go to trial May 6-12.
Redstone’s lawyer Gabrielle Vidal of Loeb & Loeb says that “by opposing the sealing of Mr. Redstone’s private records, Ms. Herzer once again proved her utter disregard for Mr. Redstone’s wishes and best interests,”
Herzer’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinge, countered that the judge “has made it abundantly clear that the trial proceedings will be open to the public and media and all the evidence will likewise will be available to the public and media. Then it will become apparent to all that Sumner Redstone is a tragic victim preyed upon by those in positions of trust and confidence who are supposed to protect him.”