Now that Sumner Redstone has resigned from running Viacom and CBS, the white gloves have seemingly come off in the heath care legal action brought by his former companion Manuela Herzer — and it’s all about the money. “This is a pre-death trust contest dressed up as a health care litigation,” Redstone’s lawyers said in a filing today in L.A. Superior Court. “Under the September 20, 2015 plan, Ms. Herzer would have received $50 million and Mr. Redstone’s Beverly Hills home, worthy roughly $20 million.”
Despite Herzer’s claims that she is interested in Redstone’s health not his money, this follows Sheri Redstone’s assertion in a now-contested declaration that her father has handed out over $70 million to his ex-health care agent over the past several years. “When Mr. Redstone amended that plan in October 2015 (on the same date he executed the Advance Health Care Directive that Ms. Herzer now challenges), he instead directed that those assets pass to his charitable foundation at his death,” the opposition filing Tuesday adds, noting the fact that now-Viacom chairman Philippe Dauman took over as Redstone’s health care agent last fall after Herzer was removed from the 92-year old’s house and life.
Needless to say, Herzer’s side disagrees.
“The only reason Manuela is fighting this fight is out of concern for Sumner’s well-being and a desire to honor the decisions he made when he was competent to do so,” said attorney Pierce O’Donnell. “The people who’ve been manipulating Sumner – most notably his daughter Shari – are trying to insinuate all sorts of base motives for Manuela’s actions, but the fact is that she is one of the only people around Sumner who has consistently put his interests first, which is why they regard her as such a thorn in their side.”
When she started her legal action late last November, Herzer insisted that Redstone is a “living ghost” who was not competent to make the decision to turn his personal or business affairs over to Dauman. Since then, the two sides have battled over legal and procedural inches in the courts with depositions given and sought, claims of false statements and signings and examinations of competency and more demanded.
On January 22, Judge David Cowan granted Herzer’s side the right to have one of their doctors exam Redstone. That one-hour examination took place on January 28 in Redstone’s Beverly Hills home. Though the results are under seal, it is telling that Redstone decided to resign from the chairmanship of both Viacom and CBS within days afterwards, thereby taking the companies out of the case for the most part.
“It is almost poetic that as she insists this proceeding is all about Mr. Redstone’s health and well-being, Ms. Herzer asks this Court to disregard declarations from his doctor and daughter about how he is actually doing,” says the filing this morning by Redstone’s Loeb & Loeb lawyers.
Now, it gets really messy.