It shouldn’t matter to Sumner Redstone whether a case challenging his competence is held in Massachusetts as opposed to California, lawyers for his granddaughter Keryn said today in a court filing: The ailing 93 year old won’t attend no matter where the case is heard.
The memorandum of law challenges arguments about Redstone’s rights made at a June 30 hearing at the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court: Judge George Phelan could rule any time on Redstone’s request to dismiss Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s challenge of a May 20 decision dismissing him and company director George Abrams from key positions in the Redstone family power structure.
Dauman and Abrams want the court to have a doctor examine Redstone, contending that he is incompetent to run his media empire and is being manipulated by his daughter Shari. Keryn is supporting Dauman and Abrams.
Redstone’s team says he’s still calling the shots and any question about his abilities should be determined in California, where he lives — and where he prevailed in a recent challenge to his competence by former companion Manuela Herzer.
His lawyers said they want a west coast venue because, among other things, Redstone’s too frail to travel and they would need to communicate with him in order to effectively represent him.
It’s questionable whether Redstone “is able to effectively ‘engage’ with anyone on any subject,” today’s filing says.
What’s more, “Redstone will not appear in court” no matter where the case is heard. If his lawyer needs to see Redstone’s face to pick up on non-verbal cues then “this could easily be accomplished via FaceTime (which Redstone is reported to regularly use to communicate with family), or other similar videoconferencing services such as Skype or GoToMeeting.”
The brief scoffs that the lawyer “must have some plan in place” because Redstone-controlled National Amusements asked a Delaware court to rule on a separate effort to replace five Viacom directors — including Dauman.
The filing also challenges the assertion that if Redstone’s competency is in question, then California law would require that a conservator be named and that person’s authority would be determined by a jury.
The state’s law “does not require a jury trial for a determination of incapacity,” and conservatorship cases with a jury are “the exception to the general rule.”