Just when it looked to be almost over, the lawsuit over Sumner Redstone’s health care might be back on again and heading to trial next month. Settlement talks between the media mogul’s reps and Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinge attorneys for his former companion and health care agent Manuela Herzer have “come to a halt,” according to a source close to events.
“The impasse is not based on monetary issues,” Herzer’s lead lawyer Pierce O’Donnell told Deadline today, without going into more specifics. “We remain hopeful that the issues can be overcome and the settlement can be finalized.” The attorney also added, ‘However, it we have to go to trial, then we are prepared to go to trial.”
This matter was set in late February to go to a potentially embarrassing trial in May by a L.A. Superior Court judge. Now looming, that trial seemed paused when word of settlement talks first leaked out last week. The L.A. Times first reported today that there was a “snag” in settlement talks.
While details are sparse over what caused discussions in the suit filed by Herzer in late November last year to have “broke down,” according to another source, indications are that documentation issues are among the stumbling blocks. We also are hearing that while Sheri Redstone is still a significant force on the defendants’ side pushing for a deal, her father has been deeply involved in the negotiations over any agreement.
Money is not an issue, according to Herzer’s lawyer, and there may be some ego-soothing to get a deal done, but no one at this point thinks that the 92-year-old ex-Viacom chief would be handling over anything near the $50 million that was once set aside for Herzer in his will. It was expected, however, that the plaintiff would see a payout in the tens of millions of dollars.
The details of any potential settlement still has Sheri Redstone taking over as her father’s health care agent, for now, and NYC-based Viacom boss Philippe Dauman relinquishing the role he took over from Herzer last fall.