Almost two years after Sumner Redstone’s former companion Manuela Herzer started the first of several legal actions to get back into the media mogul’s life and good graces, today she went after his daughter Shari Redstone and her son for at least $100 million under the once-mob-aimed RICO Act.
“The acts of Defendants Shari Redstone and Tyler Korff constitute an illegal pattern of racketeering in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), predicated on unlawful acts of bribery in violation of California Pen. Code
mail fraud in violation and wire fraud,” says the four claim complaint against the Viacom and CBS Vice-Chair and National Amusements President filed Monday in federal court in California (read it here). “In addition, Defendants’ conduct is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”), and also constitutes other torts and violations of state law,” adds the dense, 38-page filing, which demands a jury trial.
“By this litigation, Herzer seeks compensatory damages in an amount no less than $100 million, as well as treble damages as provided for under RICO,” Herzer’s longtime attorney Ronald Richards and lawyers from Winston & Strawn LLP and Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, P.C. “Moreover, because of the malicious and despicable nature of defendants’ conduct, Herzer is entitled to punitive damages, attorney’s fees and the disgorgement of profits,” it asserts.
Aiming as high as possible after years of losing legal traction, today’s suit basically casts Shari Redstone literally and figuratively in the role of a mob captain looking to take over at any cost from the ailing boss. With nursing staff and security cameras used as pawns, the boss role in this drama is of course played by the mainly incapacitated now 94-year old Sumner – with Herzer allegedly standing in Shari’s way.
“Knowing that her father’s remaining life was limited, she instead methodically hatched a criminal scheme to take over her father’s life and to then use that dominion to take over CBS and Viacom,” the explicit complaint says. “To accomplish her scheme, she knew that she needed to forcibly separate Sumner Redstone from those whom he cared about, loved, and trusted, including especially plaintiff Manuela Herzer,” the filing claims. “The plan involved a systematic, criminal and illegal infiltration into the private affairs of Sumner, Herzer and others around them without any care about his medical or legal privacy.
Viacom had no comment on the filing when contacted by Deadline. However, Redstone’s lawyer in past Herzer matter certainly did – bluntly.
“Having gotten nowhere in her previous three lawsuits against Sumner, his family, and his nurses and household staff, Ms. Herzer has concocted a work of pure fiction designed for media spectacle,” said Robert Klieger today. “Shari unequivocally rejects the fantastical allegations dreamt up by the latest in Ms. Herzer’s revolving door of lawyers. Whatever the forum – state or federal, civil or criminal – Ms. Herzer will be held responsible for all that she has wrought.”
Already suing the Viacom vice chair in another venue, this suit comes as Herzer (seen right with her onc-generous beau in 2012) is trying to get tossed out the $150 million elder-abuse action Sumner Redstone hit her and his other significant ex Sydney Holland with back in October 2016. “In the waning years of Redstone’s life, as his physical health declined and he became dependent on others for his care and sustenance, Redstone fell victim to financial and emotional abuse at the hands of two women many years his younger, defendants Manuela Herzer and Sydney Holland,” that filing claimed.
That lawsuit was in part a reaction to by Herzer’s failed health care directive action of November 2015 that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan pulled the plug on a new trial in summer 2016. The end of that suit first came to an end in May 2016 after taped testimony from the then-93-year-old Redstone made it clear that despite the mogul’s obvious ailments, he distinctly did not want Herzer to be back in charge of his medical care.
Immediately afterwards Herzer then lawyer Pierce O’Donnell of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinge launched a $100 million suit against Shari and several members of Redstone’s household staff – a suit that was very similar in may ways to the one filed today. As things continued to not go so well, Herzer shifted her legal team and at one point was suing O’Donnell too.
Under all the allegations then and now, there are the facts that Shari Redstone pushed Viacom longtime Viacom Chair and CEO Philippe Dauman out, took a vault position in her father’s empire and brought even more shake-ups to Viacom through the share-dominating National Amusements.
So once again this messy family and almost-family business is battling over the journey not the destination, it seems. Eventually, you know someone is going to tell someone here that they broke their heart.