The start of the Sumner Redstone health care trial is coming up fast so things are starting to heat up. Today they got close to blistering as the media mogul’s Loeb & Loeb lawyers filed a proposal to limit what portions of the L.A. Superior court trial and its exhibits the public and the media should be able to see.
“The overriding interest of Mr. Redstone in preserving his privacy supports limited closing of the courtroom and sealing of exhibits,” says attorney Laura Wytsma in the signed paperwork. The filing Monday comes ahead of a scheduled April 27 hearing (read it here) on pretrial matters.The trial is set to start on May 6 in Judge David Cowan’s downtown L.A. courtroom.
“If trial testimony and exhibits containing confidential medical information are not sealed, they will be widely disseminated by the media, violating not only Mr. Redstone’s privacy rights, but compromising the dignity that this Court has endeavored to safeguard through out this proceeding,” Wytsma adds.
In the over 5-month long matter from Redstone’s ex-companion Manuela Herzer, the ex-Viacom boss’ lawyers have repeatedly sought to seal documents, depositions and other material. Today’s proposal was in response to Judge Cowan’s request for ideas on how to keep Redstone’s medical info private – and to put it mildly, this is sure one way of addressing that.
If granted, the highly unusual limited closing of Judge Cowan’s downtown courtroom and sealing of exhibits would literally see non-lawyers and others escorted in and out repeatedly over the approximately 6-day trial over who is to be Redstone’s health care agent.
“The trial testimony and exhibits will contain private, personal information about Mr. Redstone’s life-information that his nurses have access to only because they are present to provide him in-home medical care,” asserts the Loeb & Loeb lawyers of the necessity of such a clampdown. “The disclosure of this personal information would violate Mr. Redstone’s fundamental, constitutional right to privacy in his own home.”
With that, Redstone’s reps say the 92-year old doesn’t “seek the complete closure of the trial” and “agrees that general summaries of closed testimony or sealed exhibits be provided to the public.” So, essentially, in what they claim is a special proceeding with extra values required, the Redstone side wants to edit what is said and take out the bits they don’t want anyone to know about the mogul’s contested capacity from actual medical professionals.
Part of the argument is that if Herzer really cares for Redstone as much as she claims – with the unspoken implication that she’s just in it for money – then she should want to protect his privacy and dignity – a point that has been made almost from Day 1 of the action. This comes as Redstone’s side Monday also followed the court’s March 18 order to file newly unsealed documents and exhibits.
Meanwhile, Redstone’s attorneys make a point of noting that they have never had a problem with the public and the media hearing what Herzer herself has to say – including about how she was replaced as the mogul’s health care agent and booted out of his Beverly Hills mansion last spring. Nor do they seemingly want testimony from Viacom CEO and Chair and current Redstone health care agent Philippe Dauman, daughter Sheri Redstone, other ex-companion Sydney Holland or the likes of “handwriting forensic experts” sealed in any way – at least not yet. As ordered by the court, the younger Redstone was deposed last week and NYC-based Dauman is set to sit down with Herzer’s lawyers tomorrow.
As settlement talks broke down in the matter earlier this month, both sides have upped their posturing and legal sharp moves as the trial looms.
After some indication by his lawyers he may serve as a witness, it has been established that Redstone himself will likely not be a witness in the case. In an April 14 hearing, Judge Cowan refuted Team Sumner’s attempt to be able to include written testimony from the speech impediment impaired billionaire. Herzer’s Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinge attorneys had filed an application to take a video deposition of Redstone when the other side indicated he could appear as a witness. When Redstone’s lawyers withdrew that notion, Pierce O’Donnell and crew pulled back their application in the mutual game of brinksmanship.
As it stands right now, Judge Cowan will probably rule on the proposal on Wednesday – which, one way or another, will heat up the stage for this already boiling action.