UPDATE, 9:36 AM: “We will appeal,” said the lead lawyer for Sumner Redstone’s former companion today after a judge denied Manuela Herzer a new trial over the 93-year old’s heath care directive. Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinge’s Pierce O’Donnell said after the L.A. Superior Court hearing on Monday that the appeal would likely be filed in the next day or so and that Herzer’s team would then seek to have the matter expedited with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, “which could still take several months.”
Calling Shari Redstone’s role as her often estranged father’s health care agent, a role Herzer held until last fall, and seemingly increasing influence over his media empire an “illegal goal,” O’Donnell noted that the battle lost today was now part of a larger war taking place in various courtrooms around the nation. For instance, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinge are representing Redstone’s granddaughter Keryn in Massachusetts on the matter of the mogul’s competency.
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“I don’t think anyone believes that me taking Sumner Redstone’s deposition fro 15 minutes decided his competency,” O’Donnell said after today’s L.A. hearing, referring to his meeting with the mogul at his Beverly Hills home earlier this spring for the first dismissed Herzer trial. In that depo, a sometimes incoherent and struggling Redstone made it very clear he wanted Herzer out of his life and Shari to take over as his health care agent. The lawyer noted that he saw the National Amusement’s boss eventually having to sit for an examination, legal and medical in the on-going corporate civil war hat has been spawned since Herzer first filed her case last November.
PREVIOUSLY, 8:36 AM: Sumner Redstone’s former companion Manuela Herzer today was shut down in her attempt to restart her perviously dismissed lawsuit over who controls the mogul’s health care. “Even if there was a right to bring a motion for a new trial in this type of proceeding, there are no grounds for a new trial under the facts presented,” said a tentative ruling by Judge David Cowan Monday morning. “For these reasons, the motion is denied,” the L.A Superior Court judge added, citing the Probate Code which governs advance health care directives like the one at issue in this case.
The hearing Monday morning on Herzer’s June 13 petition claiming new evidence in the matter comes as legal warfare over Redstone’s $40 billion media empire has been erupting all over the country. Since the Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinge represented Herzer saw her fall 2015 filed case tossed out on May 9 after just a one day trial, the issue of Redstone’s competency has become a focal point in boardrooms and courtrooms in Delaware and Massachusetts as well as California. Herzer’s chief lawyer Pierce O’Donnell also filed a $100 million civil suit against the mogul’s sometimes estranged daughter and current health care agent Shari Redstone and seven members of her father’s household medical staff the same day Herzer’s suit was dismissed.
Redstone’s lawyers have basically termed the new petition as a desperate attempt and oppose any re-opening of the case. A stance Judge Cowan agreed with, as his 21-page ruling today made very clear. “This case is not theatre and this Court is not in the business of providing a spectacle; this is about protecting the health of a man in his twilight years in the privacy of his home and his right to decide who should be caring for him if he is unable to do so himself,” the Judge wrote with a nod to the Shakespearean overtones of the June 13 petition. Cowan called any new trial, which Redstone “was not in a position to even safely attend from a medical standpoint,” a “cruel twist indeed.”
“Evidence is the mother’s milk of justice,”O’Donnell told the court this morning, citing that he believes Shari Redstone is “unfit” to serve as her father’s health care agent. O’Donnell also noted that the court did not rule on the merits of the matter of Redstone’s capacity and the various other legal cases now in contention in other jurisdictions. “We will agree to disagree,” O’Donnell added. On another motion, Judge Cowan said that with the other cases in process, he would deny unsealing a report on Redstone’s health and capacity by Herzer’s medical expert Dr. Read, which contains “some sensitive stuff” he noted.
After a hearing on June 30, Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Judge George Phelan has still not determined key issues over whether the 93-year old Redstone should undergo an independent examination on his mental capacity or even if the state is the right place to be making such decisions. Stripped of his place in the Redstone family trust and other positions, Viacom Chair and CEO Philippe Daman is fighting to prove that Shari Redstone is actually pulling the strings now and manipulating her father to negate his once protégé and take over the 805 of Viacom and CBS voting stock that Redstone’s National Amusements rules. With perhaps unintended irony, Judge Cowan today referred to Dauman as “a long time trusted advisor” to the elder Redstone.
Judge Cowan dismissed out the first Herzer trial after a often halting and incoherent video deposition by Redstone making explicitedly clear that he wanted Herzer out of his life and Shari to be in charge of his care. In depositions and statements leading up to the trial, Dauman remained adamant that the elder Redstone was in charge of his faculties and corporate empire – an attitude Dauman has harshly shifted away from as his own power has been increasingly stripped from him in Sumner’s name.
The first dismissal of Herzer’s case came over 6-months after she first filed her legal challenge to then being replaced last October as Redstone’s health care agent by Dauman. Though talks to avoid a trial fell apart in the spring, Shari Redstone took over that health care role from Dauman in April – a move the CEO surely has regretted since. The Redstone civil war spilled over of sort to other CEOs with both Shari and Dauman both invited to Allen & Company’s Sun Valley retreat this year. The younger Redstone was in attendance and seen in the company of CBS boss Les Moonves while Dauman, citing company business, did not return to the big wig retreat.
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